If insects were ninjas… well… they’d be pretty good at it. Many of the advanced technologies humans have developed for combat purposes, insects possess naturally. In some cases, their nature has our tech beat.
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DON’T LET PESTS RUIN SPRING BREAK FUN
Hulett Environmental cautions travelers about bringing home more than souvenirs
Every spring, millions of Americans plan vacations during their annual Spring Breaks. Hulett Environmental reminds those travelers that the best way to prevent pests like mosquitoes and bed bugs from ruining their trips is through preparation and awareness.
“Spring Break is one of the most popular times of the year for families and students to escape to tropical destinations,” noted Greg Rice, Marketing Director at Hulett Environmental “We remind those travelers that in order to avoid returning home with pest-related illnesses and issues, they must be vigilant and prepared.
Although bites may be inevitable, mosquitoes can leave behind more than just an itchy welt so taking precautions against these bloodsuckers is important. Travelers in tropical areas are susceptible to contracting mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile virus and Dengue Fever, both reportedly on the rise in the US as well as South America, Mexico and the Caribbean islands.
Travelers must also take steps to prevent bed bugs from hitching rides home with them in luggage and clothing. The National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA) 2011 Bugs Without Borders survey found a significant increase in the prevalence of bed bugs in public places, including hotels/motels and college dorms.
To remain pest-free while away at Spring Break and once home, keep these tips in mind from the NPMA and Hulett Environmental:
For more information, please visit www.bugs.com
A man crossing into the United States from Mexico forgot to declare his bugs as food at the port of entry. The unidentified driver told agents he forgot to declare the bags as food items. He was given a $175 fine and the insects were seized. Agents sent the bugs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where they were identified as a type of stink bug. Pests must be reported when brought into the country because they feed on plants, CBP officials said in a release.
Moral of the story is don’t forget to report pests when crossing the border since they feed on plants!
To guard against the early emergence of pests, Hulett Environmental Services offers the following tips for homeowners:
Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Presidents’ Day! From your Friends at Hulett Environmental Services.
A new, invasive species of whitefly has been found in several areas of South Florida including Lee and Collier counties.
The new species, called Bondar’s nesting whitefly, was discovered on a ficus hedge two months ago in Fort Myers off McGregor Boulevard by Stephen Brown, the University of Florida extension entomologist for this area.
It also has since been found in Collier, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
The new strain of whiteflies infests some species of ficus plants and turns their leaves sticky and stains them.
Horticulture experts said the pest won’t kill the infected plant but can expose it to further problems that could lead to death.
The pest can be identified by the appearance of white waxy blotches on top of ficus leaves.
Infested leaves eventually develop a coating of black sooty mold and the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf can be infested, which is unusual for whiteflies.
Brown collected the whiteflies from a ficus hedge here that was covered heavily in the wax and mold.
Jennifer Nelis, director of marketing and public relations for the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, said the ficus is one of the top 10 house plants in the United States.
Florida supplies the U.S. with 80 TO 85 percent of all house plants including those found in malls and homes, she said.
Greg Hodges, a bureau chief for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the new species has been determined as invasive.
The pest alone will not kill an infected tree or plant, Hodges said.
For example, he explained, a ficus will readily shed leaves but generally replaces them with new foliage.
However, he said, the problem is as the tree weakens, pressure — from other pests — continues to contribute to the decline of the host.
Other than the ficus, Hodges said Bondar’s nesting whitefly also targets some types of palms including coconut, as well as avocados, guava, some members of the citrus family, some types of hibiscus and the custard apple or sweetsop.
Hodges, who deals in entomology, nematology and plant pathology for the state, said he could not guess at the impact of the insect. “But it will be big.” he said.
In 2008, the last year available, cash receipts for Florida’s greenhouse and nursery products totaled $1.8 billion, according to industry estimates from the state Department of Agriculture.
Hodges said there is no mention in literature of this whitefly being a pest of economic significance.
“That being said, anytime a pest comes into a new environment it has the potential to be a pest of concern,” he said. “This is generally due to there being no natural enemies for the pest or due to a lag time for the natural enemies to take effect on controlling the pest.”
Some natural enemies have been found, including a species of parasitic wasp, Hodges said, that has not yet been identified.
He said research into the insect will begin.
A pest alert posted within the past week by the Florida Department of Agriculture said the whitefly is native to Brazil, but has been introduced in numerous locations around the world, including Hawaii around 2003.
Hodges said the pest likely came in on a live plant or plant materials.
This species of whitefly is the third nuisance strain of whitefly to recently hit South Florida.
It joins the Rugose spiraling whitefly found in 2009 and the ficus whitefly discovered in 2007.
The Rugose infests live oaks, mango, Brazilian pepper, gumbo limbo and black olive while the ficus species has never been reported on anything other than ficus plants.
Broward County Extension horticulture agent Michael Orfanedes said the flies cause no harm to humans, but it’s “one more nail in the coffin” for ficus.
Mosquito-borne illnesses continue to plague communities throughout the United States. With recent outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses in Florida, homeowners everywhere should take steps to protect their family.
As evidenced by the increasing incidence of West Nile Virus, mosquito infestations continue well into the fall months.
Hulett Environmental offers the following advice on keeping mosquitoes out of homes:
To learn more about mosquito-transmitted diseases, please visit www.bugs.com.