This is our first diary entry of 2014. We hope everyone is enjoying a good beginning to the year.
Giant African land snails still top DPI’s agenda in Miami-Dade
Inspectors from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services continue to look for and collect snails in 25 core areas of Miami-Dade County. This week we pointed up the importance of rapid and sustained, coordinated action by government agencies like FDACS and USDA when invasive pests are discovered within our state’s borders. We examined the plight of residents of Kerata, a state in India where there are now 59 pockets of giant African land snails. People there are finding the snails in homes and gardens (even in the walls of homes and on the plumbing!) and hearing them crunch under their feet as they walk outside at night. In contrast, our FDACS/DPI teams are making steady progress toward the eradication of the snail in Florida. Fast action and a long-term commitment, coupled with cooperation from the public, continue to protect homes, gardens, landscapes and agricultural crops from the invasive snail.
Where do bees go in the wintertime? It’s a marvel of nature
Many bird species take wing and migrate southward when the frigid winter arrives. Not so for the sturdy honey bees. They opt to stay at home in their hives, under the snow cover. There, the colony clusters around the queen, fluttering their wings and shivering. That release of energy keeps the temperature of the cluster between 46 degrees on the outer edge to a toasty 80 degrees in the center. That’s where the queen luxuriates. Worker bees rotate from the outside to the inside of the cluster, so no individual gets too cold. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes. Learn more here.
Winter weather brings some benefits
Experts are hopeful the very cold winter conditions in the northern United States will cause a sharp decrease in the number of invasive pests like the emerald ash borer this spring and summer, because the overwintering larvae are susceptible to cold. Meanwhile, we join with USDA and state agencies across the country in encouraging travelers to use only local firewood, thus avoiding transporting these dastardly pests to other areas.
In brief, from the web …
- Rose Rosette Virus (RRV), also called witches’ broom, has been confirmed in Florida. The disease is vectored by the Eriophyd mite, and multiflora rose (Rose Multiflora) is the most susceptible host for RRV. Three Florida counties had confirmed cases of RRV as of Jan 15th, 2014. Details here.
- Scientists report bed bug infestations are higher during the summer. The research comes from a team at Penn Medicine. Details here.
- Florida’s citrus industry cheered at news that the latest congressional budget deal includes an addition $20 million in funding to combat citrus greening disease. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam has termed greening an “existential threat” to Florida’s citrus industry.
- Florida producers now have until Feb. 21 to apply for conservation technical assistance and possible financial assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). Contact local NRCS offices for details. Details here.