IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientist: Pinellas County a model for mosquito-borne disease surveillance

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

Mosquito surveillance 042016 - Jonanthan Day

Jonathan Day

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As we inch closer to summer and its inevitable rain, we also head toward mosquito egg-laying season. And as we do, Florida mosquito control officials may learn to emulate Pinellas County’s mosquito-borne disease surveillance program and its response to a West Nile virus outbreak in 2005, a University of Florida entomologist says.

“They have a top-notch mosquito surveillance program in Pinellas County,” said Professor Jonathan Day, a faculty member at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “That’s the model that we always go back to. They averted a much larger West Nile epidemic in 2005.”

Day will speak April 26 at the Southwest Regional Workshop on Arboviral Surveillance in Lehigh Acres, Florida. The workshop is organized by the Florida Mosquito Control Association and FMEL, and participants will analyze the 2011 and 2015 South Florida surveillance data regarding mosquito-borne viruses.

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Florida citrus growers: 80 percent of trees infected by greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

Small lopsided fruit from greening-infected citrus tree.  Spring 2008 Impact Magazine image.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s citrus growers say as much as 90 percent of their acreage and 80 percent of their trees are infected by the deadly greening disease, which is making a huge dent in the state’s $10.7 billion citrus industry, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey shows.

The survey, conducted in March 2015, shows the first grower-based estimates of both the level of citrus greening in Florida and the impact of greening on citrus operations in Florida.

“Even though the industry acknowledges that greening has reached epidemic proportions across the state, estimates of the level of infection and its impact on citrus operations are scarce,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

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UF/IFAS recognizes top faculty research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether it’s hybrid termites, grain pathogens, mosquito mating or something in between, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying important topics and helping to solve global issues.

The UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office recently recognized more than two dozen UF/IFAS faculty members for their impactful research, and Dean for Research Jackie Burns said she could not be more proud of the scientists.

“We recognize that these research articles are examples of the many published by UF/IFAS that are highly impactful and help reach solutions to worldwide issues including food shortages, nutrition, diseases and economic development,” Burns said. “Our faculty perform top-quality, globally-recognized scientific work, and we’re proud to recognize them.”

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Veteran biologist named director of UF/IFAS entomology lab

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

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Jorge Rey

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Just as the Zika virus is causing concern worldwide, a University of Florida insect specialist with 36 years of experience at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory has been named the lab’s new director.

Professor Jorge Rey started at FMEL, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in 1979, the year the Vero Beach, Florida, lab came under UF’s umbrella. He moved up the faculty ranks from research scientist to professor in 1994 and was named interim director last year. Now, he’s the lab director, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“With his many years of top-quality research and his time as interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, Dr. Rey has earned the respect of the lab’s faculty members. Thus, he’s an ideal fit as director,” Payne said. “Dr. Rey is well-positioned to lead the FMEL scientists to new heights in research and Extension as we continue to look for solutions to mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.”

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What kind of mosquito is that? UF/IFAS course teaches you

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs

 

Asian tiger mosquito 082715

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Want to know how to differentiate between an Asian tiger mosquito and a yellow fever mosquito? Such knowledge may be worth your while because both mosquito species can transmit dangerous viruses such as chikungunya, dengue and zika if they bite you.

Students learn to identify mosquito species during a mosquito identification course being held now and in April at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL), a Vero Beach facility and part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

There are about 80 species in Florida; approximately 150 nationally and more than 3,500 globally, said Roxanne Connelly, a UF/IFAS Extension entomology professor and instructor for the courses. Connelly teaches identification of the adult mosquitoes, and Nathan Burkett-Cadena, an assistant professor at the UF/IFAS facility, teaches identification of larval mosquitoes.

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UF/IFAS scientists to present plant diagnostic data at D.C. conference

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

 

Carrie Harmon photographed for the 2011 FAES Awards.  Associate In, MS.  Mycology.  Plant Pathology.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Plant Diagnostic Center will help shed light on potentially devastating plant diseases at the 4th National Meeting of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) in Washington, D.C.

Held every three to four years, this year’s conference will take place March 8 to 12 in the nation’s capital.

Among those representing UF will be Jason Smith, a UF/IFAS associate professor of forest pathology. Smith’s topic is titled, “Holy Guacamole: Insights into the Emerging Laurel Wilt Pandemic.”

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Half of South Florida structures at risk of subterranean termite infestation by 2040

Topic(s): Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

Dr. Nan Yao Su and termites photographed in his lab on Thursday, February 11th, 2016.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Figure this: Asian and Formosan subterranean termites cause about $32 billion in damage annually, worldwide, when you combine harm to structures and measures to control them. Now, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers predict these pests will dramatically increase their impact in the next two decades in South Florida and possibly across the nation.

In fact, UF/IFAS entomologists estimate subterranean termite activity will expand, meaning half the structures in South Florida will be at risk of infestation by subterranean termites by 2040.

Assistant Researcher Thomas Chouvenc, Distinguished Professor Nan-Yao Su and Professor Rudy Scheffrahn will publish their new study in June in the journal Florida Entomologist.

Six invasive termite species are now established in Florida, and among these, the Formosan subterranean termite, the Asian subterranean termite and the West Indian drywood termite pose particular concern for residents and the pest-control industry because they cause most of the structural damage.

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UF/IFAS Extension gives tips to try to avoid Zika virus

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

 

Common Aedes Aegypti mosquito, magnified 2,000 times at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 6/28, prepares to feed on human skin. After 15 years of test on more than 3,900 compounds, Jerry Bulter, professor of entomology, has developed a safe, natural insect repellent that protects people against everything from mosquitoes to ticks and tiny "no-see-ums."  Its the first effective alternative to products containing DEET, the most widely used ingredient in insect repellent now on the market. Butler's new herbal repellent is patented by the UF and licensed to a commercial firm.(AP Photo, Jerry Bulter)

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With public concern about Zika, UF/IFAS Extension is giving tips on how to avoid contracting the virus.

Although the Zika virus is circulating in Central and South America and the Caribbean, currently, there is no evidence that local populations of Florida mosquitoes are infected. However, we need to be prepared and vigilant in case local transmission occurs, said Jorge Rey, professor and interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL), in Vero Beach Florida.

Roxanne Connelly, an Extension medical entomology specialist with FMEL, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, says:

 

  • People need to do all they can to manage the mosquitoes most likely to be involved in Zika virus transmission in Florida if the virus shows up in local mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are among those known as “container mosquitoes” specifically, the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.
  • Initial measures include getting rid of containers in your yard or outside your business, because they collect water and become perfect habitats for immature stages of these mosquito species. These include tires, wheel barrows, potted plants that sit on saucers, cans, bottles and more. You should inspect your yard weekly to make sure you don’t have any containers. Bromeliad plants and bird baths also can house container mosquitoes, Connelly said. For these types of mosquito habitats, they can be flushed with clean water weekly, or can be treated with mosquito-specific Bti granules (Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits).
  • Inspect windows and doors for hole and tears and repair them to exclude mosquitoes.
  • Mosquito repellents should be used when people plan to be outdoors at the time mosquitoes are biting. The longest lasting repellents contain DEET and picaridin. Whatever type of repellant you use, read the label to make sure you’re putting on a product registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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UF/IFAS officials credit teamwork for victory over invasive Oriental fruit fly; end of quarantine means return to business as usual for Miami-Dade County growers

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Female Oriental fruit fly. Click on image for high-res version. Cutline at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The lifting of an agricultural quarantine in Miami-Dade County on Feb. 13 signaled victory over the invasive Oriental fruit fly and a return to business as usual for growers within a 99 square-mile area that includes vegetable farms, nurseries, packing houses, residential neighborhoods and much of the state’s commercial tropical fruit acreage.

Officials with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences credit the success story to determination and teamwork by a partnership of growers, landscapers, homeowners, government officials and agency personnel, and UF/IFAS Extension faculty.

“Our personnel played a vital role in bringing the quarantine to a quick ending, by facilitating clear communication between producers and agency personnel,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The good guys won, and we’re proud that we helped make it happen.”

Numerous UF/IFAS Extension faculty took part in a statewide effort known as the Oriental Fruit Fly Eradication Program, or OFF Program, he said. Funded and overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the OFF Program also included representatives of the FDACS Division of Plant Industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection — Plant Protection Quarantine, the Miami-Dade County Agricultural Manager’s office, Miami-Dade County officials and growers’ organizations.

“Our faculty helped growers and regulators understand each other’s point of view,” Payne said. “Both sides were very motivated and once they recognized the need for cooperation, it wasn’t difficult to build consensus on a science-based plan to eradicate the fly.” Continue reading

UF/IFAS study: Pesticide-induced mosquito death outweighs fitness advantage of survivors

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research, Safety

Larvicide - Aedes aegypti larva2 - photo courtesy Catherine Zettel Nalen, UF-IFAS 021216

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A common toxin used to kill yellow fever mosquito larvae – the most prevalent transmitter of dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses – is highly effective. While there are some fitness advantages to surviving adults, this is still an effective way to control the damaging health impacts of these mosquito-borne diseases, a new University of Florida study shows.

Scientists and mosquito control officials want to kill mosquitoes during the larval, or juvenile stage, before they grow into adulthood and transmit these dangerous diseases. Dengue and chikungunya viruses are regarded as two of the most important mosquito-borne viral illnesses, said Barry Alto, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in entomology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida.

The few mosquitos that do survive after exposure to the toxin gain a fitness advantage in adulthood, but their numbers are so small that their trait improvements, including enhanced size and ability to reproduce, are unlikely to outweigh the benefit of the rest of the mosquitoes that die from the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), Alto said.

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