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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientists adapt household products to dupe and trap deadly disease-carrying insects in Africa

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Crushed seashells and vinegar could be the key ingredients in an inexpensive and readily available way to lure and trap disease-carrying insects in developing nations, according to a new UF/IFAS study.

By using these simple ingredients, insect experts can find easier ways to trap and monitor disease-carrying insects, said Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology, who led the recent study.

Mosquitoes transmit malaria, West Nile virus and chikungunya virus.  Monitoring these insects is critical to understanding when and where to control them and lessen the risk of human disease. Insect experts the world over use carbon dioxide, the same gas that humans exhale, to attract blood-feeding bugs to traps, so they can measure their abundance, test them for diseases and make decisions about whether or not to control them.

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UF/IFAS to host Bee Research Symposium on July 15-16

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS

Honey bees crawling across a bee hive during a Bee College demonstration on grafting. Bees, beekeeping, pollinators, entomology. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting the state’s first ever Bee Research Symposium, on July 15 and 16 at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest Conference Center. Symposium organizers are looking for research papers to discuss.

The meeting will bring together bee researchers and enthusiasts from across the region to discuss topics related to the study of bees, including honey bee colony losses, Africanized honey bees, pollination and native bee contributions to Florida agriculture. (more …)

Barn owls threatened by Africanized bees in South Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs
Richard Raid and a barn owl in Belle Glade. Keywords: sugar cane, bio pest control, South Florida, agriculture, bird, wildlife. Photo by Eric Zamora UF/IFAS

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Belle Glade, Fla. — Throughout the past two decades, University of Florida researcher Richard Raid has seen barn owl populations in the Everglades Agricultural Area, centered around Belle Glade, expand from mere dozens to more than 400 nesting pairs.

But these beneficial raptors, currently listed as a threatened species, are now being threatened by Africanized honey bees.  Swarming as frequently as eight times per year, the invasive bees have been taking over nesting boxes Raid and students have built for the owls, using them as hives, and displacing or even killing the desired raptors. (more …)

UF/IFAS scientists study how, why butterflies survive fires

Topic(s): Conservation, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Deciding how often and when to use prescribed fire can be tricky, especially when managing for rare butterflies, University of Florida scientists say.

That realization stems from a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural study in which researchers experimented with pupae — insects in their immature form between larvae and adults — of butterflies known to frequent fire-prone habitats of Florida.

Prescribed burns and wildfires can damage animals and plants in their paths. But they can also promote species and create habitat, maintaining the ecological balance of the forest and the region’s most frequent natural disturbance over the long term. Immature butterflies may die immediately following controlled burns, but populations can recover over time, with the amount of time depending on the species.

Scientists are concerned that butterflies with small, isolated populations may be in severe peril if their habitats are burned too frequently and in large blocks at a time, which can mean that butterfly refugia – unburned areas that provide refuge — are limited.

In the UF/IFAS study, scientists wanted to know how and why some butterflies survive wildfires and prescribed burns, particularly where the insect feeds and lays eggs on fire-adapted plants.

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Light trap lures more mosquitoes, fewer bugs you don’t need to kill

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found a light trap that monitors mosquitoes more effectively, while ferreting out bugs no one wants or needs to kill.

The finding will help mosquito control districts more quickly identify mosquitoes before decisions are made to spray, said Phil Kaufman, an associate professor and veterinary entomologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Mosquito control districts can run 50 or more traps in a night during the mosquito season to keep track of mosquito populations.  But mosquito control officials do not want to capture insects unnecessarily, a practice that takes time and money, Kaufman said. Those unintended captures include moths, beetles and other flies.

“The traps are returned to the mosquito control district office, and people have to sort through all of the moths, beetles and more to find and remove the mosquitoes that have to be identified to see which species are a problem or to test them for West Nile and other viruses,” Kaufman said. “Having fewer non-target insects makes their job easier.”

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UF/IFAS scientists zero in on Brown Dog Tick control

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

A petri dish contains several brown dog ticks, a species researchers believe has become resistant to the most commonly used pesticides.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Brown Dog Ticks

click here for video: http://bit.ly/1PujWam

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A little pest can really tick off dogs and their owners.

In addition to homeowners and canines, the pesticide industry has also been trying to find a way to vanquish the Brown Dog Tick for years.

But help is on the way, courtesy of University of Florida scientists.

Dogs and their owners who battle the Brown Dog Tick sometimes go to desperate measures ─ including getting rid of their dogs, fumigating their homes, throwing many possessions out or even moving ─ to control the pesky bugs, which breed indoors and hide in places that are practically impossible to reach.

Phil Kaufman, an associate professor of veterinary entomology at UF/IFAS, is one of several investigators who have just published two studies. One shows the tick is resistant to the most commonly used chemical applied directly between the dog’s shoulder blades. The other shows the effectiveness of carbon dioxide as a lure for baiting ticks to bed bug traps.

(more …)

Citizen science projects invite Florida residents to get involved

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you always wanted to see what real, college-level, science research projects are like – and maybe even participate in one? Now is your chance with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ annual Bug Week.

Citizen science projects are a great way for kids of any age to help researchers in Florida – and throughout the country – understand what is taking place in their own neighborhoods. The projects can involve bug or animal counts, capturing specimens or creating habitats and reporting what shows up.

“Citizen science is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Andrea Lucky, an evolutionary biologist and biodiversity scientist with UF’s Department of Entomology and Nematology. “Participants have the opportunity to get involved in ongoing research and learn about the process of science and, at the same time, scientists benefit from partnering with diverse audiences.” (more …)

How teachers and parents can help budding bug enthusiasts

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS

A green grasshopper resembling a leaf standing on pavement.  Insects and bugs.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Do you know kids who can’t get enough of spiders, crickets and lightning bugs? Do they keep creepy-crawly things in glass jars in their bedroom?

They might just want to grow up to be an entomologist, a fancy word for a person who studies insects. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is here to help your budding bug enthusiast follow their passion with a host of activities featured during Bug Week 2015, taking place May 18-23. (more …)

UF/IFAS termite pioneer selected for inventors hall of fame

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Entomology and Nematology, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

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Nan-Yao Su

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nan-Yao Su, the University of Florida scientist who invented the Sentricon® system for termite colony elimination, has been selected for induction into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

Sentricon®, the first commercial baiting product for subterranean termites, has protected millions of structures, including the White House and the Statue of Liberty.

The Hall of Fame selection committee chose nominees whose inventions and achievements have “advanced the quality of life for Floridians, our state and our nation,” according to a letter to Su from hall of fame Program Manager William Nikolic.

Su said he feels honored to be mentioned alongside such great inventors as Thomas Edison and UF’s own Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade®.

“I am glad that I can contribute to the quality of life of many homeowners in Florida and worldwide,” Su said.

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UF/IFAS grad student wins prize for mosquito trap research

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Pests, Research

Casey Parker Environmental Portrait Mosquito Housing

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Casey Parker came to the University of Florida aspiring to be a pharmacist. But chemistry wasn’t for her. So, she took a class called “Bugs and People,” and the professor at the time, Carl Barfield, convinced her to study entomology.

“I loved everything about it,” Parker said of studying insects. “It’s something people don’t think about very much. They’re around, but we don’t think, ‘they do so many crazy things in our world.’ They transmit tons of diseases that affect humans and animals.”

Parker did so well academically that she graduated last year and continued her master’s studies at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Department of Entomology and Nematology. The graduate entomology student recently won the ONE WORLD competition, organized by the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Challenge 2050 Project in conjunction with the Syngenta Good Growth Plan. She was awarded $2,000 for her work.

“I was really honored,” Parker said, adding that she felt humbled to be among the other five student finalists – dubbed “The Solution 6” — all of whom created outstanding innovations.

(more …)

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