Falcon Lawn & Pest Blog

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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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Two Japanese car makers have made the wrong kind of headlines after attempting to go green. Honda and Toyota’s new soy-based coating on wires have some drivers taking them to court.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rat-a-tat-tat.jpgBoth car companies are being sued in separate class action lawsuits as drivers have said the new material attracts rodents. The rodents are chewing through the coating as they think it’s food.

Some customers have had less than 20,000 miles on their vehicles when they started exhibiting problems while repairs have cost some over $2,000 according to reports.  

While rodents have always been known to chew on wires and nest in cars, mechanics are joining with consumers in saying that soy now is the issue. Both companies deny that claim.

Anyone who believes they’ve been victim to this can file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_lovebug.jpgFlorida residents should have a very close relationship with car washes this month as we’re smack in the middle of the second lovebug swarming season.

The small flies’ acidic bodies can wreak havoc on auto paint. Leaving their splattered bodies on cars for several days only strengthens the acidity.  According to the University of Florida’s entomology department, if enough get under your hood they can even clog your radiator.

The bugs are a huge issue in the Gulf states and Central America. According to WDAM-7 TV in Mississippi, Rainforest car wash in Hattiesburg has set up a lovebug station so customers can make sure the bugs are removed.

“Customers have the option to pull over to the side before they wash their car and take as much time as they need to scrub the bugs off the front of their vehicles,” Rainforest operations manager Barry Broome told the station.

The good news is that the bugs only swarm for about four weeks. The bad news is that, like most other flying insects, there is little pest management that can be done to control these nuisances.

Just be prepared to load up on car wash products next spring when they return.

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