IFAS News

University of Florida

UF receives mosquito traps for graduate and family housing

Topic(s): Announcements, Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests

 

Paul Choi from Seoul Viosys meets with Dr. Philip Koehler and University Vilage housing workers to donate mosquito traps, photographed on November 21, 2016.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Department of Housing and Residence Education will receive traps designed to stop mosquitoes in their tracks through a donation from SEOUL VIOSYS, a South Korean-based company.

While there are no cases of locally transmitted zika virus on the UF campus, Gainesville or Alachua County, Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for UF student affairs, welcomes the mosquito traps as a virus-prevention measure for students living in graduate and family housing.

“The Department of Housing and Residence Education is happy to receive the mosquito traps to help further protect residents living in graduate and family housing from mosquitoes that could potentially transmit viruses,” said Blansett, whose duties include managing UF student housing. “We do not have a mosquito problem at UF, but it’s great to know we’re getting more help in our continued efforts to keep students safe.”

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UF/IFAS, agencies collaborate to help landowners fight invasive species

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Forestry, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock, Pests

North Florida cattle rancher . UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It took a few years for Buzz Eaves to notice that tropical soda apple shrubs were overtaking his 1,200-acre cattle ranch near Fort Pierce, Florida. The prickly plant, with fruit the size of a golf ball and the color of unripen watermelon, was creating a barrier to the cattle’s grazing ground and displacing native plants.

“I was spending close to $6,000 a year on fertilizer and it wasn’t working that well,” Eaves said. “Then I heard about a program through the University of Florida that helps get rid of invasive species, so I turned to the school for help,” Eaves said. “It was the best thing I ever did.”

The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences joined a dozen other organizations to form the Florida Invasive Species Partnership (FISP). The members work across boundaries to address invasive species challenges across the state, said Chris Demers, UF/IFAS Extension statewide program manager.

FISP began as a working group to address invasive species on state and federal land. The program expanded to include privately owned land, Demers said. “UF/IFAS Extension faculty provide various resources on invasive species, control and prevention,” he said. “We work across all species, plants, animals and fungus.”

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Veteran UF/IFAS economist named interim director of UF/IFAS Tropical REC

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

evans-trec-111416

Edward “Gilly” Evans

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Edward “Gilly” Evans, a longtime agricultural economist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Tropical Research and Education Center, has been named interim director of the center as the unit is hiring seven new faculty members.

The new scientists include an agro-ecologist (a combination of agronomist and ecologist) who will study, among other things, how production systems can remain profitable while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Other TREC hires include one of two hydrologists, two crop breeders, and a plant stress physiologist. A biogeochemist and a hydrologist will be hired in the near future.

Evans credits recently retired TREC director Chris Waddill for laying the groundwork for the seven new faculty positions. Once the new faculty are on-board, Evans will be supervising 100 full-time center employees, which will include 17 faculty members.

“It’s an exciting time for us because this will mark the beginning of a new chapter in TREC’s history that will bring us to a new level of excellence,” said Evans, a professor in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “More and more, growers are looking to us to help with the many challenges they face, including increased foreign competition, a barrage of pests and diseases and climate change sea-level rises that threaten the quality and quantity of water resources in Florida. My emphasis over the coming year will be on completing the new hires and getting our scientists the help and tools they need to be more effective in doing their jobs.”

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UF/IFAS researcher hopes to bolster pollinators, reduce water use, other inputs on golf courses

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Conservation, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Pests, Research

Adam G. Dale at the Mark Bostick Golf Course photographed planting seeds on November 1, 2016.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This spring, a handful of golf courses in Florida will become a little more “green,” thanks to a new project led by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension specialist and researcher.

“In our state, resource conservation is a big issue, especially water conservation,” said Adam Dale, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology. “Other big issues include pollinator conservation and insect pest management. Both of which are connected to the vitality of our ecosystems.”

According to Dale, golf courses could be used to conserve pollinators while reducing water consumption and management inputs such as pest control.

“Golf courses have a reputation for the resources used to maintain them,” Dale said. “In Florida, the majority of golf course acreage is irrigated, but 40 to 70 percent of that area isn’t typically played. What if we took some of that under-played space and turned it into drought tolerant functional habitats for pollinators and other beneficial insects?”

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UF/IFAS researchers head to Cuba for scientific exchange to benefit Florida agriculture

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, Research

Bill Messina, agricultural economist with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, surveyes a map of Cuban farming areas, Tuesday 3/24, that could compete with Florida producers if and when the United States trade embargo against Cuba is lifted. During the past four years, he has led a team of UF researchers working with the University of Havana to study the economic impact of lifting the embargo.   Photography by, Thomas Wright  UF/IFAS

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is sending an inter-departmental team of scientists to Cuba as part of a grant that is believed to be the first federally-funded project for scientific field research in Cuba.

The project’s principal investigator (PI), associate professor Damian Adams; project co-PIs assistant professor Jiri Hulcr and postdoctoral associates Paloma Carton de Grammont and José Soto, and other UF/IFAS research scientists and graduate students from the School of Forest Resources & Conservation, the Entomology and Nematology Department, the Food and Resource Economics Department, and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering will travel to Cuba for this research, funded by a $228,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The project team is traveling to Cuba to fulfill several missions:

  • Conduct research to identify wood-boring pest species in Cuba that could pose high-risk threats to U.S. agriculture and forests.
  • Train Cuban scientists on state-of-the-art methods to accurately identify these wood-boring pests in Cuba in an effort to reduce the possibility of transmission of these pests to Florida agriculture and forests.
  • Understand how Cuba’s plant protection programs and policies impact pest movement, particularly to the United States.
  • Estimate the potential economic impact of a pest invasion from Cuba to the United States.

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Florida Ag Expo to highlight emerging crops, ways to battle new pests

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Extension, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

Gary Vallad speaking at the 2015 Florida Agricultural Expo at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.  Photo taken 11-04-15

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers, UF/IFAS Extension faculty and scientists will tackle production and pest problems – including the Q-biotype whitefly — when they gather for the 11th annual Florida Ag Expo on Nov. 2 at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.

Created as a way to showcase the Gulf Coast REC, the Ag Expo is a one-stop resource for Florida fruit and vegetable producers. The day-long event includes education sessions, grower roundtables, field tours and demonstrations, as well as a large vendor show with about 80 ag-related booths. The Gulf Coast REC, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, sits on 475 acres in Balm, Florida, southeast of Tampa.

“The expo has become an important show for growers to stay up to date on the latest research results to assist them in vegetable and small-fruit production,” said Jack Rechcigl, director of the Gulf Coast REC.

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Screwworm life cycle and habits contribute to insect’s threat, UF experts say

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, CALS, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock, Pests, Research
A cow grazing in a beef cattle pasure at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, Florida.

A cow grazing in a beef cattle pasture at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, Florida. Photo by Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida residents curious or skeptical about the threat posed by the parasitic screwworm fly Cochliomiya hominivorax can rest assured the insect merits all the attention it has received after an outbreak was detected in the Florida Keys earlier this month, say experts with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Commonly known as the primary screwworm fly or New World screwworm fly, the insect threatens the health of warm-blooded animals and people in areas where it is well-established, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“To put it plainly, a full-blown screwworm infestation is a death sentence for the host animal,” Payne said. “This pest can kill a previously healthy cow or bull in a matter of weeks if the problem isn’t treated properly. It’s that serious.”

Payne urges all livestock and pet owners to educate themselves about the symptoms of screwworm infestation and seek veterinary care for animals exhibiting tell-tale indications such as open wounds that do not heal, running sores, listlessness, loss of appetite or sudden weight loss.

The fly’s larvae must consume the tissue of a live warm-blooded animal to develop, so adult females lay their eggs on livestock and wildlife with superficial wounds, said veterinary entomologist Phil Kaufman, an associate professor with the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department.

“From a strictly scientific point of view, screwworm larvae are incredibly well-adapted parasites,” Kaufman said. “That’s why this species was a constant menace to Florida’s cattle industry up through about 1960, when it was eradicated from the state.” (more …)

New UF/IFAS document profiles destructive screwworm fly recently detected in Florida Keys

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock, Pests

screwworm

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To educate Florida agricultural producers, livestock owners, pet owners and concerned residents about the destructive screwworm fly recently detected in the Florida Keys, experts with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have published a profile on the insect, available online at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/livestock/primary_screwworm.htm.

The free resource provides a scientific overview of Cochliomiya hominivorax, commonly known as the primary screwworm fly or New World screwworm fly, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. The species was a major challenge for Florida ranchers until the late 1950s, when it was eradicated from the state with controlled releases of sterile male flies.

“Since the announcement earlier this week that this pest had re-emerged, we’ve had people working virtually around the clock to get accurate information to producers, pet owners and the public – this document is yet another example of UF/IFAS at work,” Payne said. “Knowledge is power, and state residents can aid the eradication effort by learning to recognize the symptoms of infection.”

A member of the blow fly family Calliphoridae, the primary screwworm fly is a threat to warm-blooded animals, including people, because its larvae feed on living tissue to develop, said Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman, an associate Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department and one of the profile’s authors.

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Florida residents should be vigilant for signs of screwworm on livestock and pets, UF experts say

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock, Pests
Adult horses grazing in a pasture at the Horse Teaching Unit.

Adult horses grazing in a pasture at the Horse Teaching Unit.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Screwworms infecting wild deer in the Florida Keys have captured headlines, and experts with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine say livestock and pet owners in Peninsular Florida should keep a watchful eye for signs of infection in their animals, to aid in the eradication effort.

Florida residents who own cattle, horses, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, poultry, exotic birds or other warm-blooded animals should know the symptoms animals exhibit when infected by the larvae of the New World screwworm fly, said Jack Payne, Ph.D., UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“We have every reason to believe that the current outbreak will be contained and eradicated,” Payne said. “Our UF/IFAS Extension Monroe County office is doing a terrific job of informing residents and interfacing with all the key players, there are relatively few livestock animals in the Keys, and the eradication effort uses proven, effective methods. Having said all that, we need state residents to provide an extra measure of protection, just by observing their animals.”

James Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D., dean of the UF veterinary college, explained that screwworm infestations occur when an adult female screwworm flies lays eggs on an open wound or mucous membranes in a warm-blooded animal. When the eggs hatch, screwworm larvae burrow into the host animal’s flesh to feed. Infestations can strike otherwise healthy animals, he noted.

“The symptoms of a screwworm infestation might include a festering wound or sore or an unexplained lump under the skin, particularly if there’s a discharge or foul smell associated with it,” Lloyd said. “Also, you may observe fly larvae on the animal or in its quarters.”

Any animal with a suspected screwworm infection should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately, said Wendy Mandese, a clinical assistant professor with the UF veterinary college’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.

“Open wounds and unexplained lumps can indicate serious health issues other than screwworm infection, so the key point is to get treatment for the animal as soon as possible,” Mandese said.

Time is of the essence from an entomological perspective as well as a veterinary one, because delayed treatment gives screwworm larvae more time to develop and cause damage to the host animals, said veterinary entomologist Phil Kaufman, an associate professor with the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department.

“The pest we’re talking about, the New World screwworm fly, Cochliomiya hominivorax, is not something you can ignore, because there’s no such thing as a tolerable infestation,” Kaufman said. “The larvae of this species consume healthy tissue – they create wounds. They are also capable of burrowing deep into the host’s body tissues to reach previously uninfected areas. Untreated cases can lead to death within a matter of weeks, maybe less.”

Clinical treatment of infected animals typically involves application of medication to the animal’s wounds to kill the larvae, larvae removal, administration of antibiotics and general supportive care, Mandese said.

“When caught in time, screwworm infections are treatable,” she said. “Even if it turns out your animal has a different health issue, immediate attention is appropriate for any unusual wound, sore or persistent discomfort you notice in a pet or livestock animal.”

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Contacts

Writer: Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Sources: For interview requests, please contact Tom Nordlie at 352-273-3567 or after hours at  352-375-1415 or tnordlie@ufl.edu, or contact Sarah Carey at 352-294-4242 or careysk@ufl.edu or after hours at 352-273-5810

UF experts addressing outbreak of New World screwworm fly in Florida Keys

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Livestock, Pests

screwworm-larva

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Responding to the announcement yesterday that the New World screwworm fly has been detected in Florida for the first time in a half-century, experts with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine are taking steps to educate ranchers, property owners and residents about the pest, and assist in eradication efforts in the Florida Keys, where the fly’s larvae were found infesting wild deer.

Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, noted that the outbreak appears to be limited to a small area but affirmed that strong, immediate action is needed to manage the outbreak and resolve the situation. He confirmed that UF/IFAS personnel will be assisting colleagues with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which made the initial announcement in a news release found at http://www.freshfromflorida.com/News-Events/Press-Releases/2016-Press-Releases/USDA-Confirms-New-World-Screwworm-Cases-in-Big-Pine-Key.

“Florida producers know all too well that we can almost never completely rule out the reappearance of pests and pathogens that were believed to be eradicated,” Payne said. “The good news is, UF/IFAS has dealt with this kind of unexpected crisis before and we’re already fully engaged in this effort.”

James Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D., dean of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine echoed Payne’s sentiments and noted that a member of the college’s faculty, parasitologist Heather Walden, was involved in confirming the initial identification of specimens collected from infected deer.

“There’s no cause for alarm, but we are very concerned because the New World screwworm fly, historically, was one of the most serious pests affecting Florida livestock production,” Lloyd said. He added that no screwworm cases have been reported in livestock or people as part of this outbreak.

Known scientifically as Cochliomiya hominivorax, the New World screwworm fly is a significant pest of domestic animals, wildlife and even people in areas where the insect is well-established. It has not been widely present in the U.S. since the 1960s but is still found in most of South America and in five Caribbean countries.

Adult females lay eggs on open wounds or mucous membranes in live warm-blooded animals, and the fly’s larvae consume flesh from the host, which can lead to disability or death. The fly is not considered a serious vector for pathogens, but tissue damage caused by larvae can make affected animals more susceptible to opportunistic infections.

Payne noted that entomologists are preparing a background document for the UF/IFAS online library, the Electronic Data Information Source, or EDIS. When completed and posted later this week, the document will detail the appearance, life cycle, habits, and ecology of the New World screwworm fly.

Extension personnel are being informed about the screwworm outbreak and information on management will be distributed to UF/IFAS Extension county offices statewide, so that Extension personnel can address concerns from ranchers, livestock owners and concerned residents.

Numerous faculty members with UF/IFAS academic departments and Extension offices, and clinical faculty with the UF College of Veterinary Medicine are working on the situation and are potentially available for interviews with reporters, as their schedules allow.

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Contacts

Writer: Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Sources: For interview requests, please contact Tom Nordlie at 352-273-3567 or after hours at  352-375-1415 or tnordlie@ufl.edu, or contact Sarah Carey at 352-294-4242 or careysk@ufl.edu or after hours at 352-273-5810

 

Photo by Heather Walden, UF College of Veterinary Medicine

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