Photo of an Aedes aegypti mosquito.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty are on the front lines in the battle against the zika virus, as entomologists study the ability of at least two mosquito species to transmit the virus and ways of reducing pesticide resistance.
They’re also teaching people statewide about how to prevent spreading zika.
As of Aug. 18, 510 American residents had contracted the virus. Florida has 479 zika cases, according to the state health department; 35 people in Florida have contracted zika via local transmission, meaning they didn’t bring it back from overseas.
Scientists at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida, have made Zika a top priority. The virus is most likely transmitted by Aedes aegypti – the yellow fever mosquito – and Aedes albopictus – the Asian tiger mosquito.
In February, when the virus started making international news, Roxanne Connelly, a professor of medical entomology and UF/IFAS Extension specialist at the FMEL, put on a statewide zika webinar to tell Extension faculty the do’s and don’ts of trying to contain zika. One of her key messages – that still holds true — was to get rid of standing water and containers that could get water in them because those are mosquito breeding grounds. The other key element was to wear repellant with DEET.
These days, Connelly is working with other UF/IFAS Extension entomologists such as Faith Oi, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and mosquito control districts on zika educational workshops and school newsletters throughout Florida.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — An entomologist recognized internationally as a specialist in biological control of insect pests has been named interim director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center.
Ronald Cave will serve as the sixth leader of the Indian River REC.
From the Indian River REC’s 1947 start as the Indian River Field Laboratory, it has served agricultural and natural resources interests with research, Extension and education programs.
Cave was appointed to his new position by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.
“In this challenging time for the citrus industry and for other agricultural commodities, we cannot afford a leadership gap even for a few months,” Payne said. “Ron Cave is the right leader for this transition because of his accomplishments as a scientist, his dedication as a mentor and his familiarity with the center. It’s this combination of excellence and stability that makes him an ideal choice for this important role.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is holding one of only five national educational seminars on the Food and Drug Administration’s new final food safety rules. The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act covers produce safety, preventive controls for human and animal food and foreign supplier verification.
The seminar, which provides an opportunity for the industry and public to give input before the guidance documents are issued, is free and open to the public.
The seminar is scheduled for March 30, from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Everglades Research and Education Center, 3200 E. Palm Beach Road, Belle Glade, Florida. Lunch will be served to those who have pre-registered for the event. (more …)
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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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cancelled an educational seminar on the FDA’s new final food safety rules, which had been scheduled for Jan. 27 at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural sciences’ Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade. The event will be rescheduled at a later time.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you think of wildfires, you may not think of wetlands. But the seldom-seen blazes may help some endangered species, according to a newly published study by a former UF/IFAS researcher.
Severe wetland fires — so rare they occur only a few times per century – also can change vegetation and patterns of water movement, said Adam Watts, who led the study as a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.
During a smoldering fire, wetlands can become deeper if the fires burn muck or peat soils.
“In some cases, this could help improve habitat for endangered species, such as wood storks,” said Watts, now a research assistant professor at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. But wetland fires can also kill many trees and shrubs, causing changes to the vegetation that returns.
APOPKA, Fla. — Florida agriculture and food industries are among the largest economic contributors in the state. Agricultural producers manage 9.5 million acres, growing more than 300 commodities, including everything from citrus and cows to peanuts and potatoes. Agricultural products are shipped to national and international markets.
On January 28, some of the state’s top agriculture thinkers will gather at the University of Florida’s Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka for the Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference scheduled for 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Cost is $50 and includes a catered lunch. The event is organized by the UF Food and Resource Economics Department, under the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Those plants you bought to beautify your home during the holidays may look lovely, but they can pose dangers to your pets and children, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences expert says.
Wendy Wilber, statewide master gardener coordinator for UF/IFAS Extension, warns of four types of holiday plants that could bring peril to your dog, cat or small child, if they eat parts of them:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You’re about to feast, give thanks, watch football and, maybe, take a nap. But as you head into the Thanksgiving holiday, how do you make sure you’re preparing your food properly and, then after dinner, how to you ensure your food stays safe to eat?
Amy Simonne, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor of food safety and quality, said although there are few clear-cut answers, she offers some situations and suggestions:
- If the turkey, stuffing and gravy or other perishable foods are left out at room temperature longer than two hours or for one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees, the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department (USDA/FSIS) recommends you discard them.
- After you’ve cooked and served the meal, when turkey, stuffing or gravy are not left between 40 and 140 degrees, you can divide the products into small portions and keep them in the refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for two to six months. This recommendation also comes from the USDA/FSIS. For more information, click on: http://1.usa.gov/1uKfrNl.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Recent news accounts of horses falling ill or dying after consuming the weed creeping indigo have raised concerns among horse owners. So, University of Florida experts have released a new publication to educate the public and help prevent future incidents.
It’s the latest in a series of educational efforts on creeping indigo led by faculty members with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said weed scientist Jason Ferrell, a UF/IFAS agronomy professor. For the past year, Ferrell and colleagues have been giving live presentations to horse owners and reaching out to veterinarians, Extension agents and fellow scientists with information.
“We want to heighten people’s sense of awareness, heighten their vigilance, teach them about good pasture management practices and improve their horses’ health,” Ferrell said.
The publication is available free at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag399. It provides color photos of creeping indigo, along with information on its toxic effects, preventive steps to discourage establishment of the plant, and herbicide recommendations for treating infested pastures. The publication is part of the UF/IFAS online Extension library known as the Electronic Data Information Source, or EDIS. (more …)