Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pesticide Registrations and Actions

On October 19, the FDACS approved the registration of Whitmire Micro-Gen Research Laboratories’ Prescription Treatment Sorexa® blocks and place packs (difenacoum) to control rodents at urban and non-urban sites. The EPA registration numbers are 47629-16-499 & 47629-17-499). (FDACS PREC Agenda, 11/5/09).

On November 5, the FDACS approved the registration of Pasteuria Bioscience’s biological control agent Pasteuria usgae (Econem®) for control of sting nematode in turf. The EPA registration number is 85004-2. (FDACS PREC Agenda, 12/3/09).

On October 27, the FDACS approved the registration of Ortho’s herbicide iron pholate (Ecosense®) lawn weed killer for control of broadleaf weeds in lawns. The EPA registration number is 67702-27-239. (FDACS PREC Agenda, 12/3/09).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Public Hearing on Fertilizer Ordinance

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

This is your opportunity to voice your thoughts on the proposed landscape and fertilizer ordinance. The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners approved a proposed Fertilizer and Landscape Maintenance Ordinance for advertisement for public hearing. The public hearing will be held @ 6:30 p.m., January 19th, 2010 in the Board Assembly Room on the 5th Floor of the Courthouse, 315 Court Street, Clearwater, FL..

Here is a link to the draft of the ordinance considered at the Dec. 1 meeting: With the exception of the deletion of Section 10 (b) and minor editing, this ordinance will be considered for adoption at the Jan. 19th meeting. The final version of the recommended ordinance will be posted on the County’s website at no later than Jan. 14th, 2010.

Upcoming CEU Day 2010

Need CEUs??? Here is a great opportunity to get them, especially the hard to acquire CEUs in Aquatics, Natural Areas, ROW, Forest Pest Control and others.

Mark your calendar for March 30, 2010. The event starts at 8:30 and ends at 4 PM. All the classes are taught by University of Florida Specialists. A total of 6 CEUs will be provided.

See this link for complete agenda and CEU information:

Registration for this class will be available on our website starting January 4, 2010. You can register for individual classes, or choose the whole series. Here is the link to our registration page:
Remember to tell your friends and colleagues about this opportunity!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dengue Fever in Florida

Mosquito bite prevention more important than ever.

Twenty (20) human cases of dengue fever (acquired locally) have been reported in Monroe County (South Florida) over the last few weeks.

But it was just announced that a recent survey (with blood tests) of 240 residents showed "that 41 percent had been exposed to the dengue virus or other Flavivirus, either through exposure to one of the viruses or through vaccinations, such as the yellow fever vaccine."

While UF medical entomologists and DOH researchers do not expect the outbreak to spread beyond Monroe County, they do agree it is time for Florida residents to take a more active approach to prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.

For information about mosquito repellants (really good info here):

For more information on Dengue virus see this link:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Citrus Scab

Are your clients with citrus having these symptoms on their tree?

Water is the single most important factor affecting the severity of this disease.

This disease should be controlled mainly on fruit intended for the fresh market. It is only a serious disease on certain varities of citrus. It mainly affects lemon, Murcotts, Minneola and Temple varieties and is often a problem on grapefruit.

For more information about this disease, its causes and control see this link:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Festive Fun at First Annual Farm City Week

Come enjoy the festivities and see the past, present and future of Pinellas County Agriculture at the Farm-City Week celebration. It will be held at Heritage Village. It starts at 9 AM and goes until 4 PM. Pick up your fresh veggies and more for Thanksgiving dinner at the Market in the Park. Sample grove and dairy treats, play old time games, learn about Ag-oil and more. There is fun for the whole family.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Giant Larva Eats Plumeria

This is the stunningly beautiful larva of the very plain looking tetrio sphinx moth. One of its favorite host plants is Plumeria. If clients are complaining about something chewing up their Plumeria, this is most likely the culprit. We have had two samples of these colorful caterpillars recently brought to our help desk.

See more about this amazing insect here:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Twig Borers Cause Brown Tips on Oaks

Are you seeing oaks with brown tips? It could be caused by twig borers, tiny beetles that bore into branches.

These borers introduce a fungus that kills the branch from the point where the beetle has entered the branch to the branch tip. Often this is the last one to 2 feet of the branch. The fungus serves as the food source for the immatures. The entrance holes are very tiny and hard to see with the naked eye. However, a quick look under a microscope or hand lens may reveal the tiny, round hole, almost machine drilled in its appearance.

Twig borers are common on many kinds of trees in our area, including red maple, oaks and some other trees. The damage is usually more cosmetic than threatening to the tree. Eventually the dead branch tips drop to the ground. Insecticidal treatment is usually not necessary.

More information about twig borers can be found here:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ficus Whitefly Confirmed

Have you noticed Ficus trees or shrubs dropping leaves and going bare? A new exotic pest of Ficus is now hitting our area. In August 2009, the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry just confirmed this pest in Pinellas County.

The picture is a puparia of fig whitefly.

To learn more and for treatment information see this link:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bed Bug Registry

See up-to-date information about which hotels and other locations around the county have bed bugs. This website depends on visitors to report their bed bug experiences.

As you well know, bed bugs are causing problems in dorms, apartments, hospitals, condos, hotels, etc.

Learn more about heat treatment for control of bed bugs at our upcoming "CEU Update" December 1st.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hickory Horned Devil - Large As A Hotdog

This imposing larva (caterpillar), known as the hickory horned devil, is most often observed when it is full grown and comes down from the trees to wander in search of a site for pupation. It can beome as large as a hot dog.

This large caterpillar will eventually become the regal or royal walnut moth, one of our largest and most spectacular moths. Like most other moths, it is nocturnal but is sometimes observed around lights at night.

The regal moth typically has only a single generation per year. In Florida adults have been collected in May, but are more common during the summer.
The larvae live about 35 days and have been reported from a variety of host tree species. They are commonly found on species of the family (Juglandaceae) including walnut (Juglans nigra), butternut or white walnut (Juglans cinerea), and a variety of hickories (Carya spp.) including pecan. In Florida, larvae are frequently found on sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Other hosts commonly listed are persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and sumacs (Rhus spp.).

In central Florida, larvae are usually found from late July to mid-August while they are wandering on the ground searching for a suitable location to burrow into the soil for pupation. The pupa is the overwintering stage.

The regal moth is a beautiful and fascinating member of our native fauna, and its larvae should NOT be killed. If a larva is found crawling on pavement or in an area of thick turf grass where it would have difficulty burrowing, it should be moved to an area of soft soil or a mulched area where it can burrow for pupation.
For more information see this website:

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Weevil In Town

Here at the Extension Office we’ve been seeing this weevil. Have you seen this pest? This is a new exotic invasive weevil called the Sri Lanka weevil. It does leaf and root damage to several fruit trees, palms, ornamental plants and citrus. For landscape plants, severe infestations can be controlled using insecticides which include carbaryl (Sevin), acephate (Orthene) or a pyrethroid labeled for leaf-feeding insects. For more information see this University of Florida publication: or google: Sri Lanka Weevil IFAS.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Best Management Classes

Get ready now for the fertilizer license that will be issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Certification in the Green Industry Best Management Practices will be required to obtain this new fertilizer license.

Everyone applying fertilizer must have this license by Jan. 2014. Beat the rush and get your certification now.

Class cost is only $15. You also get 4 CEUs: 2 core and 2 in the Lawn/turf/ornamental categories. These are also valid for FNGLA CEUs. Visit this link to register:

There is a pre- and post-test for the BMP certification. Those passing the post-test with 75% correct will receive the BMP certification.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Tick and Grub Product Approved

On June 26th, the FDACS approved three prducts from Novozyme Biologicals, Inc. (Tick-Ex) which contain Metarhizium anisopliae Strain F52 as a biological control agent for ticks and grubs in ornamental and landscape settings. (FDACS PREC agenda, 8/6/06).

Fabulous Field Day Coming Soon

Spend an exciting day (September 17th, 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM) at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research & Education Center (GCREC) to learn the latest about:

· New and under-utilized, pest resistant plants for the landscape
· Caladiums in the urban landscape,
· Bio-control of insect pests
· Weed and disease management, and
· The relationship between soil management and pests in the landscape

After a stimulating morning of presentations by specialists at the GCREC, tour the facility and see, first-hand, the current research taking place.

Stick around at the end of the day for a fabulous give-away of rare and unusual plants – a must for any plant enthusiast!

The $15 registration fee covers educational materials, lunch and refreshments. FDACS and FNGLA CEUs (3 total) provided for professionals.

On-line registration at:

The GCREC is located at 14625 County Road 672, Wimauma, FL 33598. From I-75 north or south, take Exit 246 and merge onto Big Bend Road/CR 672 East towards US 301. Turn right onto US 301/CR 672 and travel approximately 1.4 miles. Turn left onto Balm Road/CR 672 and travel 7 miles. The center is located on the south side of Balm Road.

For more information about the day’s events, contact Ms. Christine Cooley, 813-634-0000 or

Friday, September 4, 2009

Get Rid of Leftover Pesticides - Free

“How am I supposed to get rid of these *$%@ leftover pesticides”?

Operation Cleansweep’s purpose is to provide service for collection of unused pesticides and is a great disposal opportunity. Funding is in place for Operation Cleansweep to occur again, beginning December 1. Detailed information is available by going to:

Friday, August 28, 2009

BMP Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the Best Managment Practices (BMP) state law that was just passed?

The University of Florida has a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to help answer your questions. Please see this link for the FAQs:

Pinellas County Extension is offering several of the BMP certification classes here. The class costs only $15. Please go to this link to register:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lawn Caterpillars

By Jane Morse, University of Florida/IFAS Extension Agent, Pinellas County

The Caterpillars

The tropical sod webworm is the most common caterpillar that attacks home lawns. These are stealth caterpillars because they hide during the day by curling up on the soil surface and come out at night to chew the grass.

The caterpillar or larvae are gray-green in color and have many brown spots. Full grown caterpillars are ¾ to 1 inch long. There are generally 3 to 4 generations each year and the life cycle is 5 to 6 weeks long.

The fall armyworm can be found year round in coastal areas. These will feed day and night, but are most active during dawn and dusk. They are usually more of a problem at golf courses because they prefer to eat Bermuda grass. They are greenish at first, but turn dark brown with a light stripe on their back and a dark stripe on each side. They can get to be 1 ½ inches in length.

The striped grass looper may be cream, blue-gray, brown. black, or
orange in color. They also have a light stripe along the middle of their back. These are not as common as the tropical sod webworm or the fall armyworm.

The Damage

Initially the damage will be seen as small bites taken out of the sides of the grass blades so that the grass blade looks notched. Just as with any caterpillar, the larger they grow the more they eat. If the damage is not seen early, then it may seem that overnight the lawn has been scalped. Therefore, it is important to examine your grass at least once a week.

To find the caterpillars part the grass and look for chewed leaves, silken webs, green or brown frass (excrement pellets) or the actual caterpillar. A soap flush (2 Tablespoons liquid dishwashing soap mixed in 2 gallons of water) can also be used to find caterpillars. Pour the soap flush on 1 square yard of damaged grass and after 5 minutes look to see if any caterpillars have come to the surface. If you find 5-8 sod webworm caterpillars, or 3-4 fall armyworms or striped grass loopers per square foot then chemical treatment is recommended (see below).

Preventing Them

The first step in managing these caterpillars is prevention. There are 3 things you can do to have a healthy lawn.

First, use a slow-release, complete fertilizer and apply it no more than 2 times per year. The frequent use of water-soluble (quick-release) nitrogen fertilizers leads to tender new growth which is very attractive to pests. Tropical sod webworm female moths search out dark green turf for egg laying...a condition created by the overuse of nitrogen fertilizers.

Secondly, water only when the grass shows signs of wilt…do not overwater. When watering, apply about ¾ inch of water. Too much water and fertilizer creates thatch (dead material between green grass and soil) which makes pest control very difficult.

Lastly, mow turf at the recommended height (varies with grass type, but most home lawn grass should be mowed at 3 ½ to 4 inches). Mow often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf height is removed. Keep the mower blades sharp for a clean cut.

Insects that Help Control Caterpillars

There are several helpful predators (killers) such as spiders and ground beetles that will eat caterpillars in your lawn. In addition, the striped earwig is a good predator of tropical sod webworm. There are wasps that are common parasites (killers) of the tropical sod webworm and fall armyworm, and there are parasitic flies that attack the striped grass looper caterpillar. These beneficial insects can often be seen flying over lawns in search of the caterpillars.

Chemical Control (Last Resort)

The safest product to use is the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) because it only kills caterpillars. It is most effective to use when the caterpillars are small (young). Some commercial products include Dipel, Green Light Bt, Worm Killer, Safer Caterpillar Killer and Thuricide. Caterpillars treated with Bt stop feeding within a day or so and die within a week. Treatments applied in the early evening when caterpillars begin feeding may be most effective.

Once caterpillars are nearly fully grown they may pupate (change from a caterpillar into a pupa) quickly making an insecticide treatment unnecessary or ineffective.

There are many insecticides labeled for use on these caterpillars. For a complete list call the Pinellas County Extension Service at 727-582-2110, visit us at 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL or see the University of Florida/IFAS publication “Lawn Caterpillars” at For more information about mowing, watering or fertilizing your lawn contact or visit your local University of Florida/County Extension Service.

Turfgrass Insect Sheets .
Lawn Caterpillars

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mosquitoes: Avoid The Bites And Get Rid Of Breeding Sites

The bite. Mosquito bites can be annoying, itchy, painful and in Florida even disease-causing. The most important mosquito-borne diseases in Florida are St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile virus encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis. To avoid bites and the possibility of getting a disease from a mosquito it is important to protect yourself.

Protecting yourself. To avoid getting bitten use a mosquito repellant, avoid infested areas, wear light-colored, loose-fitting protective clothing, and stay inside during dawn and dusk. Repellants work by confusing the mosquito. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends only three repellents: DEET (diethyl toluamide); Picaridin; and Oil of Lemon-Eucalyptus (do NOT use on children under 3 years). There is no scientific evidence that sound emitting devices, or that eating garlic, vitamins, onions, or any other food will repel mosquitoes. See for more information.

Screening keeps mosquitoes from getting indoors. Install screens with 16-18 mesh and repair broken or torn screens to help keep mosquitoes out. Keep un-screened doors closed. Calk cracks and crevices to keep bugs out.

Before applying any repellent, read the label and do NOT over apply. Make sure the label lists the insect that you need to repel. Use the lowest concentration that works for you. Apply only to exposed body parts. Products with 10% to 35% DEET will provide adequate protection under most conditions. OFF! Deep Woods with 23.8% DEET provides an average protection time of 5 hours while Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil provides only 10 minutes protection time. For a complete listing of protection times of tested mosquito repellents, see the University of Florida publication “Mosquito Repellents.” This publication can be found at this site:

Activities that may decrease the effectiveness of a repellent include activities that cause perspiration, high humidity, high temperature, rainfall and swimming.

Relief. To relieve the itch and redness of mosquito bites a topical corticosteroid can be used. Oral antihistamines can also be effective in reducing the symptoms of mosquito bites. More information can be found here:

Mosquito control. To reduce the number of mosquitoes it is important to get rid of mosquito breeding sites. Some things you can do to reduce breeding sites include: clean debris from rain gutters; get rid of water on and around structures like flat roofs, and air-conditioning units; change the water in birdbaths and wading pools weekly; change the water in pet bowls daily; stock ornamental ponds with Gambusia fish; and encourage other insects like dragonflies and aquatic beetles that feed on mosquitoes. Search out any area that holds water (a half-cup of water can breed enough mosquitoes to cause a problem) and get rid of the water or change it frequently. See this site for more mosquito breeding locations and solutions:

Products can be used to control either the larvae or adult stages of mosquitoes. Larvae can be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (B.t.). These are often sold as “mosquito dunks”. Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (B.t.) is considered a “biological” method of control and is the least harmful to non-target organisms. Insect growth regulators are other products that can be used, as well as malathion, temephos and pyrethrins.

Remember to protect yourself from mosquito-borne disease by preventing bites, and practice mosquito control by getting rid of their breeding sites.

Mosquito Myths - Excerpt from Jorge R. Rey’s publication “The Mosquito”.

There are many misconceptions about mosquitoes, some of the more common ones include:

Bug zappers are effective against mosquitoes - bug zappers do not control mosquitoes and can reduce the populations of beneficial insects.

Electronic repellers keep mosquitoes away - No they don't; save your money.

Residential vegetation can produce mosquitoes - They may be resting in the vegetation, but standing water is required to "produce" mosquitoes.

Bats, owls, and other birds can control mosquitoes - Although they may include mosquitoes in their diet, they do not consume enough mosquitoes to make an appreciable difference in their populations.

Some mosquitoes can be 2 inches long. - They don't get that big, it was probably a crane fly.

Mosquitoes nest in vegetation - Mosquitoes do not nest.

Spraying for adults is the best method of mosquito control - Adulticiding is the least efficient method. Eliminating mosquitoes before they become adults is preferable.

Mosquitoes can transmit AIDS – False.

The Citrosa plant repells mosquitoes - Although citrosa oil (citronella) has been used widely as a mosquito repellent, the undisturbed plant itself does not release these oils and is thus not effective as a repellent.

The full document can be see at:

Monday, July 6, 2009

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

Did you know Florida has more deaths caused by lightening than any other state? There are more deaths caused from lightening than all other weather hazards combined including hurricanes and tornadoes!

As soon as you hear thunder you are close enought to be struck by lightening, so seek shelter immediately. At the first clap of thunder, go to a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before you to go back outside.

Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available.

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Rudavski

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Electrical Safety in the Landscape Services Industry

An article appearing in Green Industry Pros.Com covers the topic of electrical safety for the landscape services industry. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), employees in this industry are more likely to die from electrocutions (9.8% of their job-related fatalities from 2003-2006) than those in the U.S. workforce overall (4.4% of the job-related deaths during that same period).
Training materials for electrical safety:
Tailgate training, Electrical Shock (English and Spanish)
Tailgate training, Overhead Electrical Hazards (English and Spanish)

From: UF/IFAS Safety News and Notes

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

St. Pete Fertilizer Ordinance Requires BMP Certification

Do you apply fertilizer in St. Petersburg?

All site supervisors and managers of professional lawn care companies, as well as government and institutional landscape supervisors must obtain the Best Management Practices (BMP) certificate by March 19, 2010.

Employees of lawn care companies who are not site supervisors or managers shall also be trained in BMPs within ninety (90) days of employment. This training may be provided by a BMP-certified site supervisor or manager employed by the company.

You will need to have a Best Management Practices (BMP) certificate in order to get your local business tax certificate.

For a copy of ordinance prohibiting sale of fertilizer during blackout period:

Pesticide Study Shows Increased Risk of...

A study done by the National Institute of Health regarding pesticide usage and pesticide residues in homes; pesticides and colorectal cancer; and pesticides and diabetes is summarized in this UF/IFAS publication:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Your Comments Please

Please send me a comment and let me know what topics you like to see on this blog. This is for you, so I need to know what you want. Is there something I can add to help you more? You can select to be anonymous when you send a comment.

Red Date Scale - New Resource

Want to know more about the Red Date Scale?

The host for red date scale is usually restricted to palms of the genus Phoenix and it is named after its preferred host, the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera.
Other reported palm hosts (Miller and Gimpel 2009, Stickney et. al. 1950, Sinacori 1995) include:
Calamus and Daemonorops spp.: rattan palms,
Pandanus sp.,
Phoenix canariensis: Canary Island date palm,
Phoenix reclinata: Senegal date palm,
Phoenix roebelenii: pygmy date palm,
Washingtonia filifera: California fan palm, Washington palm, American cotton palm, desert fan palm. Additionally, red date scale has been reported from Eucalyptus sp. (family Myrtaceae) (Kozár and Drozdják 1998).

For information about control, life cycle, etc. see this new publication:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tree Seminar

Developing A Healthy, Wind-Resistant Urban Forest

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Pinellas County Extension Service
12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo, FL 33774

To register:

Speakers: Ed Gilman, Ph.D., University of Florida
Ed Barnard, Ph.D., Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

8:00 – 8:30 Growing Quality Trees in the Nursery - Canopy
This is an introduction to modern tree production strategies based on research in the last 15 years. Topics include liner and container selection, planting strategies, and production pruning protocols, and root pruning and field harvesting.

8:30 – 9:00 Growing Quality Trees in the Nursery - Roots -
Trees last for decades or longer when roots grow correctly. We’ll show you how to grow a strong root system in the nursery using the correct liner trays, containers, and field techniques. There are brand new methods to eliminate root defects in containers, and proven field production methods that ensure good roots.

9:00 – 9:45 Planting Trees – New Research Improves Performance
Proper planting includes irrigation, soil management, and root management strategies that reduce transplant shock and improve health on established trees. There's lots of new information on all this. You’ll go home with new techniques you can use next week.

9:45 – 10:00 Break

10:00 – 10:45 Root Management
Root and soil management strategies hold the key to maintaining and improving health on trees in compacted and other stressful landscape sites. We detail the newest and most effective techniques professionals are using to keep trees growing and customers happy.

10:45 – 12:15 Why We Don’t Want Foreigners
Review the history of introduced/exotic pests in American forests.

AND Florida’s Big Tree Killers

12:15 – 1:00 Lunch – Bring $10.00 for vendor lunch (salad, meat, veggie, starch, rolls, dessert and tea), or bring your own.

1:00 – 2:00 Pruning Trees In The Early Years
New developments in tree biology and recent advancements in the science of tree structure provide a sound basis for delivering efficient preventive pruning treatments. We present preventive arboricultural strategies now known to increase tree health and longevity

2:00 – 2:45 Pruning Mature Trees
You will go home with a new understanding of how and why we prune mature trees, and how to apply it to most real life situations. We will decipher thinning, reduction, raising and structural pruning.

2:45 – 3:00 Break

3:00 – 3:45 Structural Pruning – New Research
Pruning can have a dramatic impact on how trees respond to gravity and wind storms. Our data generated from a wind machine producing up to 120 mph winds shows that structural pruning designed to reduce growth rate and weight on co-dominant limbs is the most effective method of minimizing damage from storms.

3:45 – 4:30 Designing Urban Spaces for Sustainable Tree Growth
Learn how to design spaces including sidewalks and parking lots to support tree growth so your design vision can be fulfilled. There will be lots of photographs, illustrations, specifications, and take-home messages involving the audience.

4:30 – 5:00 CEUs

CEUs Available:

ISA - 7.25

Location: Pinellas County Extension Service
12520 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33774

Cost per person: $70.00 pre-registered; $140 at the door

For class information and registration please visit: and select the “Online Class Registration” button on the upper right side of the screen, and then select “Commercial (pesticide/FNGLA/ISA) CEUs”. If you do not have access to the Internet please call 727-582-2100 and press 2.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Snowbush Under Attack by Spanworm

By Jane Morse, University of Florida/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Agent

Calls are pouring in about something that is totally stripping the leaves off the plant called Snowbush (Breynia nivosa). If you look closely you will find a yellow caterpillar with black stripes happily munching on the Snowbush leaves. This is the caterpillar or larval stage of the white-tipped black moth (Melanchroia chephise). This caterpillar is a member of the “inchworm” family of moths, also known as “spanworms”.

The moth (adult) is a daytime flyer, which is very unusual for moths. Most moths fly at night. The moth has a wing span a little over an inch with velvety looking wings. The wings are navy-blue to black and have white tips on each of the four wings. Their thorax is orange.

Moths and butterflies are very specific about which plant they choose to lay their eggs upon. For the white-tipped black moth, its favorite plant is the Snowbush. It will also use the Otaheite gooseberry (Phyllanthus acidus), snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata) and possibly white sapote (Casimiroa edulis) for its egg laying.

The caterpillar (larva) that emerges from the egg is an eating machine and will soon devour the leaves of the plant. If there is a shortage of leaves the caterpillars may even start feeding on the twigs and bark. Host plants will usually recover from caterpillar feeding, but if there are too many caterpillars and no predators to eat them, they may kill the plant.

What to do: If you enjoy the moth and caterpillar for their unusual beauty you don’t have to do anything.

If you don’t like your snowbush looking tattered or completely lacking in leaves then you will need to kill the caterpillars. The best way to do this is to regularly go out and look at the undersides of the snowbush leaves. Look for salmon-pink eggs (smash them) or for the already hatched caterpillars. You may also notice that the leaves are starting to have chew marks.

When the caterpillars are small you can spray them with an insecticidal soap or use a Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) product such as Dipel® or Thuricide®. If it rains, you will need to reapply the product. A spinosad containing insecticide can also be used. Many times if you catch the infestation early you can just prune off the tip branches were most of the caterpillars are located and dispose of them.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I D Cardholder Class

2 and 4-Hour
ID Cardholder Training
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Note: This class is for people that work under someone else's pesticide license.


12:45 – 1:00 PM Registration
1:00 – 1:50 Pesticide Safety – Jane Morse
1:50 – 1:55 Break
1:55 – 2:45 Pesticide Formulations and Labels – Andy Wilson
2:45 – 2:50 Break / Registration
2:50 – 3:40 IPM – Jane Morse, Extension Agent
3:40 – 4:30 PM Pesticide Laws and Regulations – Andy Wilson
Jeopardy review – Jane and Andy
4:30 - Completion of Attendance Forms

Location: Pinellas County Extension Service
12520 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33774

Cost per person: $20.00 for 2 hours pre-registered, or $40 at the door
$40 for 4 hours pre-registered, or $80 at the door

For class information and registration please visit: and select the “Online Class Registration” button on the upper right side of the screen, and then select “Commercial (pesticide/FNGLA/ISA) CEUs”. There are 3 separate classes listed: 1-3PM; 3-5PM or 1-5PM

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bio-Control Of Chilli Thrips Looks Promising

Dr. Lance Osborne, UF/IFAS of the Mid-Florida REC at Apopka, is working on biological control of chilli thrips. The project, in cooperation with the USDA, is testing two species of predatory mites and the results are very favorable. You can view the news release at:, and the UF/IFAS Chilli Thrips Web site at:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Fertilizer Law Passes - Get Certified

With the new fertilizer law just passing, 100% of fertilizer applicators will need a DACS license and GI Best Management Practices (BMP) certificate by Dec. 31, 2013.

The Extension Service is offering a certification class at Brooker Creek on May 18, 2009. This is your opportunity to earn 4 CEUs and possibly get your BMP certification (you have to pass the exam).

Learn how mowing, pruning, fertiliztion and irrigation can affect the health of plants and their ability to tolerate pests. Troubleshooting of irrigation, proper management of irrigation as well as irrigation requirements and design will be covered. Learn about using integrated pest managment, pesticide selection, storage, handling and disposal. Learn the best management practices to reduce water pollution

Earn 4 pesticide CEUs: 2 core and 2 in one of these categories: O & T, Commercial L & O, Limited L & O, LCLM, or Private Applicator Ag.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Interesting Entomology Tidbits

We all know that before they can get to the wood, subterranean termites have to move a lot of dirt. Around many structures, "dirt" often means sand. Now you can see how they do it. Dr. Nan-Yao Su and his Ph.D. graduate student Hou-Feng Li posted videos on the Web that show excavating, loading, moving and then depositing sand grains from a number of angles. You can view the videos at

Why do monarch butterflies migrate? Scientists om the University of Massachusetts Medical School uncovered a suite of genes that may be involved in driving the butterflies to migrate towards Mexico for the winter. See details.

Eschew the "Me" Generation. Bees and ants really do have the best interests of the colony at heart. See for details.

Termite Sex! It now appears that termite queens do not always have to have sex to reproduce. See for details.

Forget natural materials like wax, plastic and cardboard are the new IN materials for wild bee homes. See for details.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Especially when the eye is on the top or bottom of a butterfly's wing. See for details.

Bug Quote
"Three kinds of blood vessels are arteries, vanes and caterpillars." – answer written on a high school science test.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ants, Bed Bugs, Termites, Cockroaches And More!

The University of Florida's 14th Annual Southeast Pest Management Conference (SEPMC) is May 3-6, 2009. Detailed information can be found at:

Get all the newest research and information about pests and their control.

All your favorite players will be there: Dr. Phil Koehler, Dr. Roberto Pereira, Dr. Laurie Trenholm, Dr. Monica Elliott, Dr. Bob Stamps, and
Dr. Ed Gilman just to name a few.
Registration for all three days $140; daily $60.
Exhibitor spaces are also available.

Aquatic Weed Control Short Course

Desperate for CEUs? Earn up to 20 CEUs! Aquatic, ROW, natural areas, forestry, private applicator, core and more are available. For a listing see:

Regular Registration Deadline April 17th!

2009 Aquatic Weed Control Short Course - May 4-7, 2009, Coral Springs Marriott, Coral Springs, Florida

Exams will also be given.

Increase Your Plant Palette

The Floriculture Field Days event (, organized by FNGLA, will be at the Best Western Gateway in Gainesville on May 14. This event highlights new and under utilized herbaceous plants for the Florida landscape and features nationally-recognized expert speakers.

FNGLA is offering a great deal of only $75 pre-registration and $25 for educators and students, so sign up now!

Tell your friends about it. To register, go to

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Pests of Shrubs and Trees

Many new invasive exotic pests are becoming established in Florida. What do they look like? What do they attack? How can I control them? For answers to your questions, please see the presentation link:

I presented this information at the ISA seminar on March 10, 2009 at PTEC.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Aquatic CEU Update

Pesticide Mode of Action and Chemical Families
Jason Ferrell, Assistant Professor, Extension Weed Specialist, University of Florida, Gainesville.Herbicide toxicity to plants and people will be addressed. Proper handling and pesticide safety will also be discussed.

New Weeds to Watch For
Ken Langeland, Professor; and Collette Jacono, Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida, Gainesville. Identification, biology, and management of emerging and potential aquatic plant pests will be discussed

Ponds: Careful of the Fish
Charles Cichra, Professor, Fish Ecology and Management, University of Florida, Gainesville.This presentation will discuss factors affecting aquatic macrophyte and algal growth, with an emphasis on nutrients; the role of aquatic plants as habitat; the relationship between aquatic plants and fish abundance; the source, dynamics, and management of dissolved oxygen in aquatic systems; and how aquatic plants and their control can affect fish populations.

New Herbicides on the Horizon
William Haller, Professor, Invasive Weed Control, University of Florida, Gainesville. Herbicide resistance and herbicides that we have historically used in aquatic weed control will be discussed as well as best application techniques. Characteristics of the perfect aquatic herbicide which will include selectivity, non-target effects, downstream concerns and particularly irrigation issues will be discussed. Experimental Use Permits, rules and regulations and limitations of use, and data requirements will also be discussed. New modes of action of possible new products and current registration status will be covered.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Integrated Pest Management Update

Integrated Pest Management Update
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Below are the handouts from the presentations

How to Make Bio-Control Work in the Landscape – Steven Arthurs, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
Methods to encourage natural pest control on ornamentals through conservation of indigenous beneficial arthropods and also how to use commercially purchased insect biological control agents on ornamentals

Scouting and Problem Diagnosis for Landscapes - Geoff Denny, Ph.D, UF/IFAS
This talk will cover the basics of IPM scouting in a landscape, including determining the cause of landscape problems

Diseases – Phil Harmon, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
“Fungicide products for landscape disease management.”
10 min on current disease issues and 10 min on utilizing new fungicides effectively and efficiently.

Insects – Eileen Buss, Ph.D. , UF/IFAS
The biology and current management options for several new invasive ornamental plant pests (e.g., fig whitefly, red palm mite, etc.).

Nematodes - Eric Luc, M.S., UF/IFAS
"Current and new diagnosis and management strategies for plant-parasitic nematodes in Florida's landscapes." 10 minutes on diagnosis and sampling, and 10 minutes on current and upcoming nematode management strategies.

Weeds – Robert Stamps, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
Information about two “new” invasive and noxious weeds in Central Florida. Characteristics of three new herbicides for use in Florida landscapes.

Palm Diseases - Monica Elliot, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
Characteristics of the new disease Texas Phoenix palm decline and the phytoplasma that causes this disease.Useful Palm Books and Websites

Soil Health - Amy Shober, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
Identify urban soil issues that may impact soil biology and the maintenance of ornamentals and turf in the landscape. Strategies to overcome these problems will also be discussed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hot, Dry Spring Expected

La Niña conditions have recently returned to the Pacific Ocean. La Niña can be thought of as the opposite of El Niño and usually bring a warmer and drier spring season to Florida, central and lower Alabama and central and southern Georgia.

La Niña events in 1999 and 2000 and more recently in early 2006, were associated with an increase in forest fires across Florida and Georgia. Check the recently released AgroClimate Ag Outlook for more information on potential impacts of La Niña on vegetables, row crops, forestry, pasture, fruits, and also a quick overview of potential impacts across the world on:

Clyde Fraisse, Climate Extension Specialist
Agricultural & Biological Engineering
University of Florida - IFAS
P.O. Box 110570
Gainesville, FL 32611-0570
Tel. 352-392-1864 ext 271
Fax 352-392-4092

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Integrated Pest Management Update Class

University of Florida specialists will be providing new information on landscape pests and pest management strategies, scouting and problem diagnosis for landscapes, as well as how to make bio-control work in the landscape.

4 CEUs provided: 1 core and 3 of either O & T; PVT; L & O; LLO or LCLM

Date: Wednesday, March 4 from 9 AM to 1 PM.

To register on line go here: select pesticide CEUs, then look for the Integrated Pest Management Update class.

You can also call Delores at 582-2131 to register.

Texas Phoenix Palm Decline

DPI has Texas Phoenix palm decline on their website under “Hot Topics” (go to There is Pest Alert document, and, more importantly, there is a file with a map illustrating sites documented with TPPD. It was updated Feb. 3 to reflect the Highlands County confirmation.

The EDIS document on TPPD ( is in the process of being updated to reflect the addition of Sabal palmetto to the host list. There will be a link to the DPI map in the updated version.
Texas Phoenix palm decline has been confirmed in two new counties: Highlands County (Lake Placid) on Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island date palm) and Lake County (Mount Dora) on Phoenix dactylifera (date palm).

We are still trying to obtain information about the date palm in Mount Dora, as it is in a relatively new housing development. In general, the vast majority of Phoenix dactylifera are brought from California, but are held in various locations within Florida prior to planting in the landscape. We want to know when the palm was planted, and if was within the last year, was it held in a TPPD known area prior to movement to Mount Dora.

*************************************Dr. Monica L. ElliottProfessor and Associate Center DirectorUniversity of Florida - IFASFort Lauderdale Research and Education Center

UF Bee College

The 2009 UF Bee College is being held on March 20-21 in St. Augustine. The Bee College is the most extensive honey bee educational event in the Southeast. It includes over 40 lectures and workshops on honey bees and beekeeping. No experience is necessary--the Bee College offers all the courses necessary for someone to become a beekeeper!

More information, including registration form, can be found online at
or you can email me ( with your address to receive a brochure in the mail.
Michael K. O'Malley
Extension Coordinator
African bee Extension and Education (AFBEE) Program Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab Entomology and Nematology Department University of Florida PO Box 110620 Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
(352) 392-1901 Ext:189

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Insect Encounters at the State Fair

The Florida Entomological Society will sponsor Insect Encounters at the State Fair in Tampa, FL during February 5-16, 2009. Come to the Agricultural Hall of Fame at the state fairgrounds to visit insect displays staffed by the University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Department, the Florida Department of Agriculture - Division of Plant Industries, the USDA Center for Medical and Veterinary Entomology, the Florida School IPM Program, The McGuire Center for Lepidopteran, the Florida Pest Management Association, and more. Displays will include information about entomophagy, which is the use of insects as food, honey production in Florida, and invasion and management of fire ants. We will have termite farms, insect displays, insect eating demonstrations, and much, much more. Don't miss Insect Encounters at the state fair.