Falcon Lawn & Pest Blog

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Posted by on in Lawn Care

Sago palms are a beautiful plant that requires a large time commitment but not too much work to keep them looking great. If you purchase a young Sago palm it could be up to 13 years before it’s first flower blooms and 70-100 years before reaching it’s full height!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sago-Palm.jpgMany gardeners keep their Sagos in pots for convenience but this creates it’s own set of problems. Potted trees often have problems draining which can allow mold and disease to develop. Because of this it is important to be careful of overwatering. Only water your Sago if the soil is starting to become dry. When selecting your pot, make sure your pot has a drainage hole in the bottom and that the hole is unobstructed at all times. If your Sago is planted in your yard, water long enough to make the soil is still damp after 5 minutes.

Sagos need fertilizer treatments twice a year with a palm specific mix to build up defenses against weather, insects and disease. The best times to fertilize are the  beginning of the summer and winter season.

Thankfully, this palm is fairly hearty and can survive Florida’s mild winters. Sagos can withstand brief periods of temperatures as low as 15 degree F. (-9 C.), but are killed at 23 F. (-5 C.) or below. This means you need to provide sago palm winter protection in most areas outside of Florida. Homeowners in The Villages and Central Florida should not have to worry about protecting their Sagos unless we get an unusually cold and sustained winter.

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Posted by on in Lawn Care

Tropical Hibiscus provide your home with a beautiful pop of color that can last all year long if properly maintained. Because they are a tropical plant they need consistent warmth throughout the fall and winter to keep healthy. When temperatures in Central Florida drop below 40°F it is important to bring your plants indoors, making it more convenient to keep potted plants. However, many Florida residents plant Hibiscus directly into their yards and will require blankets wrapped around the bases’ of the plants to retain any available heat as soon as a cold snap is announced.

Besides temperature considerations, your home’s region will affect the nutrients your Hibiscus requires. In the areas surrounding Orlando, a light regular treatment of a balanced fertilizer is necessary twice a month in spring and summer or once a month in the fall and winter. Further north around The Villages, a balanced but potassium rich fertilizer is needed with the same frequencies. A slow release fertilizer is ideal so you do not risk over fertilizing your Hibiscus and your plant can absorb what it needs as needed.

By properly maintaining your tropical plants you can look forward to beautiful flowers no matter the season.

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The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is sending a team to Cuba to collaborate on wood-boring species.

With the US and Cuba improving relations, travel and trade between the two countries will begin to increase. An unintended consequence of that increase is the possibility of invasive species traveling to the US from the island nation.

“The project will assess the risks to Florida from exotic plant pests in Cuba, consistent with UF/IFAS’ mission to protect and enhance agriculture and natural resources of Florida,” the projects principal investigator, Dr. Damian Adams said in a statement.

“We will be analyzing Cuba’s policies and institutional capacity to prevent and mitigate the movement of pests,” he continued

Among the things the researchers will be studying are which species call Cuba home, the economic impact of invasive species on the United States, and Cuba’s methods of controlling these pests. They will also train Cuban scientists on state-of-the-art methods to accurately identify pests.

The project is being funded by a $228,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Authorities in the state are using drastic measures to stop the spread of the parasitic New World screwworm in the Florida Keys. Quarantine and sterilized males are being used to stop the first outbreak in over 30 years.

USDA and state officials use radiation to sterilize male screwworms, which are actually a species of fly. The male flies are then released to mate with the females. Any eggs that are laid won’t hatch thus killing the population.

The Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, declared a state of emergency after confirming an infestation in Key deer on Sept. 30. That particular subspecies of white-tailed deer is an endangered species making the containment of this issue all the more important.

"While it sounds like a Halloween joke, it poses a grave threat to the last population of the subspecies of Key Deer," Putnam told CNN. "And if it gets beyond the Keys, it represents an enormous threat to the US livestock industry, because of potential quarantines and trade barriers that could occur if it gets into the livestock population."

The screwworm can grow as large as common houseflies only with orange eyes. They lay eggs in open wounds in mammals and the hatched larvae feed on living flesh.

Infestations are easy to detect in humans and pets according to reports. An animal health checkpoint has been set up by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for residents and visitors.



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b2ap3_thumbnail_Bed-Bug-3.jpgDuval County Public Schools in conjunction with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are trying to prevent the spread of bed bugs in Jacksonville.

“Bed Bugs and Book Bags” is an initiative that teaches students how to identify the parasitic bugs and how to deal with them.  It’s an actual curriculum where teachers in the public schools devote class time to educating their students about the bugs.

The program, which started in 2012, has been a smashing success leading to its duplication across the country, in Canada and in some Middle Eastern countries.

It’s a part of a larger effort in Duval County called the Jacksonville Bed Bug Task Force. The task force was instrumental in helping Trinity Rescue Mission in Jacksonville almost completely eradicate its bed bug population. It’s also been tasked with providing information at health fairs and community events.

“Bed Bugs and Book Bags” is currently available to third through fifth grade students with students gradually learning more as they progress in age. The plan is to expand it to sixth through eighth graders in the near future.

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