IFAS News

University of Florida

Neighboring termite colonies re-invade; expose themselves to deadly bait

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Even after an insecticide bait weakens Formosan subterranean termites, a neighboring colony will invade the same area and meet the identical lethal fate, new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research shows.

The research finding is key for a pest that accounts for much of the $32 billion annual cost caused by subterranean termites worldwide.

“The good news for a homeowner is that as soon as the colony is weakened by baits, the neighboring colony would immediately invade its tunneling system, discover the baits and consume them,” said UF/IFAS entomology professor Nan-Yao Su, co-author of the study. “This always results in the elimination of the invading colony. The results showed that as long as the baits are still present in the bait stations, they will continue to intercept and eliminate incoming colonies.”

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UF researcher: Online tool helps make neighborhoods more bird-friendly

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When it comes to urban planning, sometimes a bird in hand is not worth two in the bush. Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have created an online tool to help planners strategically conserve forest fragments and tree canopy that will attract more birds and enhance future biodiversity.

The Building for Birds web tool predicts how the distribution of trees and tree patches in a new development will impact resident and migrating bird habitat. Users can test different arrangements to see how they can optimize habitat for different development scenarios.

“When planners do sustainable development, they usually consider factors such as water, energy or transportation. With this tool, they can also consider biodiversity and show good diligence and stewardship,” said Mark Hostetler, professor of wildlife ecology and conservation who developed the web tool with UF graduate student Jan-Michael Archer.

It’s often not possible to include large swaths of undeveloped land in new developments, so the challenge is knowing how to make the most of the habitat that can be retained, Hostetler said.

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UF sets Family Fishing Day on March 18

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Always wanted to take the kids fishing, but can’t find the time? The University of Florida IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation will host Family Fishing Day from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 18.

The free, monthly event will be held at 7922 NW 71st Street Gainesville, Florida, 32653. Organizers will provide bait and tackle. Also, there will be a complimentary hot dog lunch.

“It’s a great opportunity to get families together on the side of the pond fishing together,” said Chuck Cichra, professor and fisheries UF/IFAS Extension specialist. “Also, it’s an opportunity to get kids outdoors away from computer games and TV sets, and introduce them to the sport of fishing.”

The event features a raffle for a chance to win stuffed tackle boxes. Proceeds support companion program Fishing for Success, a UF/IFAS program that shares the marvels of aquatic sciences with schoolchildren.

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‘Gloom’ and doom when these insects are on hot, dry red maple trees

Topic(s): Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Pests, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — They are known as gloomy scales, and these insects can make a red maple tree’s life downright dreary. This is because the arthropods feed and thrive on them, especially in warm and dry urban landscapes, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

Melanaspis tenebricosa, or gloomy scale insects, reproduce more, especially when the trees they live on are under the stress of heat and drought, according to new study led by UF/IFAS entomology assistant professor Adam Dale.

Dale’s new research is important as residents and urban landscapers decide when and where to plant red maple trees, which are native and widely distributed in North America from Florida to Canada and whose canopy helps cool urban areas.

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4-H youth have voices heard at state Capitol on March 23

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida State Capitol will be a sea of clover green on March 23 when approximately 500 4-H youth visit with state representatives and senators, and learn about the legislative process firsthand.

The day will include a group photo in front of the Historic Capitol building, a speech from Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, meetings with state legislatures and a tour of the Capitol complex.

“This is a very special event and one that is very near to my heart,” said Chris DeCubellis, associate state program leader for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension 4-H youth development program.  “The idea of providing a framework in which young people can interact directly with their elected officials is an exciting prospect.”

Students will learn much from a firsthand look at government, DeCubellis said.

“This 4-H program provides an outstanding opportunity for our young people to understand how our government works and how their voices can be appropriately heard at the highest levels,” DeCubellis said. “We want our 4-H members to go on to be contributing members of their society, and this is an example of a program that helps youth on that positive journey.”

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Learn how to grow plants without soil at hydroponic farming workshop

Topic(s): Announcements, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS

LIVE OAK, Fla. — Do you want to know how to grow plants without soil? More and more, people want to start a hydroponic farming business. To meet that demand, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension will host workshops this month to get you going.

This marks the ninth straight year that Extension faculty at the UF/IFAS Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center will host the workshops. If you are interested, you can attend March 13-14 or March 17-18 at the center, 8202 County Road 417, Live Oak, Florida.

“We had great demand for information coming from growers and potential growers,” said center director and UF/IFAS Extension specialist Bob Hochmuth. “Although many growers are diversifying from traditional farming enterprises, I would say most are not coming from a traditional farming background.”

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Faculty to share helpful information at UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Summit

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Protecting the water Floridians will need for the 15 million additional residents projected to live here 50 years from now means getting today’s 20 million Floridians to conserve water, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

Michael Dukes, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said water conservation will be one of many topics at this year’s UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Conference, scheduled for March 16-17 at the Straughn Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.

UF/IFAS experts will share information on landscaping and the issues that go along with it, such as water, horticulture and human behavior, said Dukes, who also works as director of the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

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Grapefruit for dessert? South Korea could be a lucrative market for Florida growers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — How about grapefruit as a dessert or snack? That is how many South Koreans, especially younger ones, view the fruit. Therefore, Florida grapefruit growers may want to expand their shipments to that Asian nation, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

UF/IFAS researchers are doing a series of surveys for the Florida Department of Citrus, comparing the consumer behavior and market potential for grapefruit in the U.S., Europe and Asia. In the latest study, Yan Heng, a postdoctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS food and resources economics department, conducted an online poll of 992 South Korean female shoppers over 20 years old.

She found South Korea may be a growing market for U.S. grapefruit. Furthermore, South Korean consumers generally consider U.S. products as high quality, so U.S. growers would have a chance to profit by selling with a premium, Heng said.

“We really look at this study and South Korea as information to see if we can increase younger consumers in other countries,” said Lisa House, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and a study co-author. In addition to eating grapefruit, South Koreans also use grapefruit in beer, tea and ice cream, so marketing opportunities abound.

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Repellant could keep dangerous beetles away from avocado trees

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

Redbay ambrosia beetles.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Using some pleasant-smelling chemicals, avocado growers may soon be able to repel beetles that inject a potentially deadly fungus into their trees, saving fruit and money, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

When they’re infected with the laurel wilt fungus, redbay trees – a close cousin to the avocado — emit methyl salicylate to repel redbay ambrosia beetles, the very beetles that gave the trees the fungus in the first place, scientists say in a newly published study.

Florida avocados bring a $100 million-a-year impact to Florida’s economy, UF/IFAS economists say. They grow almost entirely in southern Miami-Dade County, but growers have battled the laurel wilt fungus, which can kill redbay and avocado trees, since it arrived in Georgia in 2003.

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Florida Saves Week starts Monday — how much do you have put away?

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida may be the sunshine state, but more Floridians should start saving for a rainy day, says a researcher with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Without an emergency fund, unexpected financial shocks might lead to a financial storm and a vicious cycle,” said Jorge Ruiz-Menjivar, assistant professor of consumer economics in the department of family, youth and community sciences.

Research shows that families without an emergency fund are more likely to have bank overdrafts, fall behind on their bills, have a hard time managing credit and may turn to subprime alternatives that have higher costs than conventional options, Ruiz-Menjivar explained.

To help more Floridians build wealth, not debt, UF/IFAS is urging residents to pledge to start saving during Florida Saves Week, Feb. 27 to March 4 at floridasaves.org. Part of the national America Saves program, this state-wide initiative has been officially endorsed by Jeff Atwater, chief financial officer for the state of Florida.

This year, Floridians who pledge can enter to win $50 to be put toward reaching their financial goals by completing a short survey after signing the Florida Saves pledge.

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