IFAS News

University of Florida

Whitefly infestation only in Palm Beach County – for now

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — People in Palm Beach County can help manage a potential outbreak of the Q-biotype whitefly through early detection and identification of the insect, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

This significant tropical and subtropical pest may threaten Florida crops such as tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons and many other vegetables and ornamentals if immediate measures are not taken to prevent its spread. Known scientifically as Bemisia tabaci, the Q-biotype is a light-colored, flying insect slightly less than 1 millimeter in length. Thus far, the Q-biotype whitefly has been reported in all four quadrants of Palm Beach County – north, east, south and west – said Lance Osborne, a UF/IFAS entomology professor.

To find and detect this whitely, residents should first look at hibiscus plants because those are host plants to which this whitefly species will likely gravitate. They should also take a look at their poinsettia plants, Osborne said. There are two types of this whitefly species: Q-biotype and B-biotype, and they look virtually the same, so it’s critical to get a genetic analysis to determine if you have the Q-biotype whitefly.

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Potential whitefly outbreak threatens Florida landscapes and crops

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Q-biotype whitefly, a significant  tropical and subtropical pest, may threaten Florida crops such as tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons and many other vegetables and ornamentals if immediate measures are not taken to prevent its spread.

Scientists statewide, including those with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), are working together to control the whitefly which, for the first time, has been found outside greenhouses and nurseries in Florida. Known scientifically as Bemisia tabaci, the Q-biotype or Mediterranean whitefly is a light-colored, flying insect slightly less than 1 millimeter in length.

Researchers with UF/IFAS are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to manage the whitefly.

“Unfortunately, we have a developing whitefly issue in Florida,” said Lance Osborne, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida. “The situation may be improved with diligent attention to identifying and reporting any outbreaks.”

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At UF/IFAS Plant Camp, science teachers learn to spread the word about invasive plants

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research

BMB hydrilla

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Kenny Coogan, a seventh-grade science teacher at Orange Grove Middle Magnet School, took an airboat ride on Lake Tohopekaliga and saw the devastation caused by invasive plants, he knew he had to bring this information back to his classroom.

“After seeing the negative effects of the plants first-hand, I knew I needed to share this experience and ways to mitigate the invasive species with my students,” Coogan said.

Local middle and high school science teachers like Coogan are getting help in spreading the word about invasive plants, thanks to a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Each June the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants invites 24 teachers from across the state to a five-day Plant Camp where they learn about invasive plants and how they can bring this knowledge and awareness into the classroom.

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UF/IFAS research-based mosquito repellant recommendations for increased public safety

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Homemade do-it-yourself remedies found online and circulated on social media should be regarded with cautious skepticism unless there is UF-based research supporting the product, according to researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For example, there is no scientific evidence that eating garlic, vitamins, onions or any other food will make a person less attractive to host-seeking mosquitoes, UF/IFAS experts said.

UF/IFAS conducts research and extension on mosquito repellents, said Ken Gioeli, program Extension agent for natural resources and the environment for UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County.

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

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

Nan-Yao Su, a professor of entomology with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, examines a nest of the new Asian termite that is spreading in South Florida -- Friday, April 8, 2004. The pest was found in Key West and Miami a few years ago, and now UF researchers have discovered a well-established population in Riviera Beach, more than 70 miles north of Miami. Su, based at UF’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, said he is not sure how much farther north the tropical species can move and survive.

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 event unveils latest turfgrass research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

Urban development in Florida - coupled with the growth of the nation's largest golf course industry - is driving the huge demand for turfgrass.

JAY, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty will showcase the latest turfgrass research June 15 at the twenty-second annual UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Turfgrass Field Day and Expo.

The UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center will host the field day and expo, which is co-sponsored by the Gulf Coast Golf Course Superintendents Association, said J. Bryan Unruh, professor of environmental horticulture and associate center director of UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.

Green industry representatives, UF/IFAS Master Gardeners and anyone interested in turfgrass are invited. In past years, the field day and expo has drawn around 300 people from Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, Unruh said.

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Ambrosia beetle spreads dangerous avocado pathogen

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

Jonathan Crane, professor of horticultural sciences, inspecting an avocado tree at the Tropical Research and Education Center.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the laurel wilt pathogen casts a cloud over the $100-million-a-year Florida avocado industry, University of Florida researchers continue to look for clues to prevent the pathogen from spreading.

The main culprit has been the redbay ambrosia beetle, which has infected millions of native redbay and swampbay trees with the laurel wilt pathogen, but it is rarely seen in commercial avocado orchards.

UF/IFAS scientists now know that several other ambrosia beetles are carrying the laurel wilt pathogen; two native ambrosia beetles are capable of carrying it and transmitting the disease to avocados, said Daniel Carrillo, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in tropical fruit entomology.

Scientists at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida, are focused on understanding and then disrupting the association between these native beetles and laurel wilt, said Carrillo, a faculty member at the Tropical REC. This spring, Carrillo detected an outbreak of another ambrosia beetle, the Tea Shot Hole Borer, which can spread another disease of avocados known as fusarium wilt.

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As backyard poultry takes off, UF/IFAS Extension teaches residents how to care for their flocks

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Livestock

Chickens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension has become the go-to educational resource for Duval County residents who want to raise chickens in their own backyards.

When Jacksonville passed an ordinance in 2015 allowing hens on residential properties, city officials wanted to make sure that people understood the basics of backyard poultry before they were issued a permit, said UF/IFAS Extension Duval County agent Andy Toelle.

The city approached UF/IFAS Extension Duval County to create an educational program that would prepare prospective chicken owners. Residents must take the UF/IFAS Extension Duval County Backyard Poultry Seminar to get the certificate needed for the permit.

Toelle, UF/IFAS Extension Duval County agent Terra Freeman and UF/IFAS Extension Baker County director and poultry expert Mike Davis lead the seminar. They take pride in being the principal source of poultry education in the area. “We get calls every day about this program,” Freeman said.

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UF/IFAS short course cultivates relationships millions of years in the making

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Extension, Green Living, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Mycorrhiziae under a microscope

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Not all fungal infections are bad for plants—in fact, some of them are critical for plant survival, according University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

The UF/IFAS Applications and Analyses of Mycorrhizal Associations course teaches participants how to harness the power of these beneficial fungi. Andy Ogram, professor of soil and water sciences, and Abid Al Agely, senior biological scientist, co-founded the course.

Mycorrhizal fungi live in the soil and have a symbiotic relationship with plants. “The fungi actually function like part of the root systems,” and can be cooperative with 90 percent of plants, said Ogram. This mutually beneficial relationship is called a mycorrhizal association and is technically an infection, though a positive one.

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UF/IFAS Chef Bearl teams up with Bok Tower Gardens for Outdoor Kitchen opening

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

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LAKE WALES, Fla. — Forty Florida middle school students will learn to cook fresh, healthy meals with a professional chef, thanks to the partnership between University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and Bok Tower Gardens.

The cooking demonstration is set for May 20 and will celebrate the recent opening of the new Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden at Bok Tower Gardens, said Chef David Bearl.

The Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden will inspire meals prepared with the seasonal fruits and vegetables grown onsite, said Tricia Martin, director of education at Bok Tower Gardens.

Martin worked with Bearl to design the kitchen with a chef’s needs in mind. The kitchen features state-of-the-art appliances, a wood-fired brick oven, granite countertops and seating for 40 people.

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