On June 6th, we held an Invasive Species Workshop: Air Potato Challenge and Species Awareness day at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Panama City. Over 700 air potato leaf beetles were distributed to more than 30 sites in Northwest Florida by citizen scientists to help manage the invasive air potato vine!
We were joined by University of Florida Wildlife Ecology Professor, Dr. Steve Johnson, and representatives from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and Science and Discovery Center (SDC) of Northwest Florida. If you would like to learn more about topics covered at the workshop, please click on the videos below. We hope you enjoy and share!
Steve Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension, shares Exotic Invaders: Reptiles and Amphibians of Concern in Northwest Florida. (Updated June 7 2018 – 10AM CDT) http://www.eddmaps.org and http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/steve_johnson.shtml
Rick O’Connor, UF/IFAS Extension, tells us about the ball python, a potential invasive species. Rick also provides an overview of keeping pythons and other snakes as pets. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW34100.pdf
Holli Nichols, FWC, tells us about the Wildlife Assistance program for homeowners and property owners. Holli helps out find solutions for negative encounters with Wildlife. Most problems are easily solved and she provides a few tips. Holli also tells us about the FWC Pet Amnesty Program for Exotic Pets. Watch to learn more. http://myfwc.com/conse…/you-conserve/assistnuisance-wildlife
Kira Burdeshaw, SCN of NW FL, shows off the tokay gecko we found at the Extension office on the front porch earlier in May. The Gecko moved in with Kira and her other reptiles at the Science and Discovery Center.
Kira Burdeshaw, SCN of NW FL, introduces us to Jewel the iguana and Eva, a boa contrictor. She also tells us more about the Science and Discovery Center in Northwest Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN52800.pdf and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW34200.pdf
Mike Kennison, FWC, shares resources and efforts to manage lionfish in Florida waters. Learn more about this Summer’s Lionfish Challenge at http://myfwc.com/…/saltwater/recreational/lionfish/challenge
Derek Fussell with FWC Invasive Aquatic Plant Management talks about Giant Salvinia, a species of concern for Deer Point Lake in Bay County, Florida. Here’s a link to a story about the discovery of giant salvinia in Bay County from 2016 http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/…/nisaw-2016-working…
Derek Fussell shares a behind the scene’s view of their new boat for controling aquatic plants in Bay County and Northwest Florida. We will visit with Derek and Jamie later and show some of the aquatic invasives they work to control everyday!
Scott Jackson and Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS, show Air Potato Beetles and discuss vine look-alikes. Schedule for the June 6, 2018 is briefly discussed. https://t.co/8c9KdV9Ezm More at https://t.co/gVh28N714E#airpotatochallenge #invasivespecies
Dr. Steve Johnson, UF/IFAS Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology will be the featured speaker on June 6th
June 6th is a great day to learn about all types of invasive species that threaten natural areas in Northwest Florida!
The UF/IFAS Extension Bay County office will have multiple educational exhibits with living samples of species of concern from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6th. This is a multi-agency effort to inform citizens about the impact of invasive plants and animals and how they can help reduce introduction and spread. For full details see the Bay_Invasive Workshop Flyer
We are pleased to announce our partners Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida will be on hand to share information about caring for exotic pets and current management plans for invasive species such as Lionfish, Aquatic Weeds, and how to surrender an animal on designated Pet Amnesty Days.
At noon there will be a special guest speaker for a bring your own lunch & learn “Exotic Invaders: Reptiles and Amphibians of Concern in NW FL.” Dr. Steven Johnson, UF/IFAS Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology, will talk about exotic reptiles and amphibians we should be aware of that may occur in our area.
In the morning, we will be focusing on the invasive air potato vine with the distribution of air potato leaf beetles for biological control. Need air potato leaf beetles to manage the air potato vine on your property? Please register here http://bit.ly/bayairpotato to receive beetles – they will be distributed from 9 a.m. – noon on June 6th.
Learn more about the success of the Air Potato Biological Control program at http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml
Air potato leaf beetle attacking the invasive air potato plant.
Air potatoes got you down? Have no fear, for the Air Potato Challenge is coming to Leon County!
Register now to attend the Air Potato Challenge event on May 18, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research (6361 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee, FL) and receive a supply of air potato beetles to use on your property.
After years of testing, air potato beetles became available as a biological control in 2012 to help combat the invasive herbaceous perennial air potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera). Air potatoes arrived in south Florida from China in the early 1900s and have steadily crept north until they are now invading the Panhandle Region. Fortunately, air potato beetles have dietary requirements that are very specific, relying strictly upon air potatoes to complete their life cycles.
This is why a team of researchers and Extension agents have come together to help spread air potato beetles as a biological control strategy. Many agencies and counties are involved in this effort, including UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County, UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center, the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry, the USDA, Florida Fish and Wildlife, UF/IFAS Extension Leon County, and Florida A&M University.
From 9 a.m. to noon on May 18, Florida residents and public land managers are invited to come out to the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research to get more information about the invasive air potato and its biological controller, the air potato beetle, and receive a supply of beetles to use on their properties. Please pre-register on the Eventbrite page (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/may-18-2018-air-potato-challenge-leaf-beetles-available-for-the-public-leon-county-fl-tickets-44793035174).
You can find more information about air potatoes and air potato beetles on the UF/IFAS Solutions for Your Life Air Potato Biological Control page (http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml).
What: Air Potato Challenge
Where: FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research, 6361 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee, FL
When: May 18, 2018, 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Cost: Free of charge, but please pre-register
An important skill for the Florida gardener is to be able to identify and control invasive, exotic plant species. These plants invade and disrupt Florida’s unique natural ecosystems, often spreading from surrounding urban and suburban landscapes. Being proactive in reducing their spread helps protect the integrity of Florida’s natural areas. Cooler days, fewer bugs, dormant vegetation (including poison ivy!), and striking plant characteristics make this time of year perfect for identifying and controlling invasive, exotic plants in urban/suburban woodlands. For additional motivation, February 26 through March 2 has been proclaimed National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
National Invasive Species Awareness Week is February 26 to March 2 this year.
In north Florida, two easily recognizable invasive, exotic plants are coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata) and heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica). Both of these plants were introduced decades ago as ornamental plants due to their showy foliage and fruit and ease of cultivation. I picture an adventuring botanist or gardener returning from some exotic locale and sharing what a beautiful and easy growing plant they had found. These characteristics make them easy to notice.
Coral Ardisia (left) and heavenly bamboo (right) are easy to recognize this time of year. Credit: UF/IFAS; Gil Nelson.
In small areas, manual control methods can be used to successfully rid an area of these common pest plants. Simply pick off the berries and place them in a small container – a 5-gallon bucket works great. Pull up the mature plant being sure to remove the roots. The seeds should be double-bagged and placed in the garbage for disposal in a landfill. The plants can be tossed to the side and allowed to dry out and breakdown. For larger plants, a shovel or root jack can be used to help ensure that the roots are removed from the soil. Follow up is often necessary for total control.
Chemical control methods are more efficient and practical for large areas. County Extension offices can help you select the right herbicide control program for your individual site and particular invasive, exotic species present.
During February and leading up to National Invasive Species Awareness Week, look for opportunities in your community to help rid natural areas of these pesky plants. For more information on invasive, exotic species, including photos, videos, and control recommendations, visit the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants website – plants.ifas.ufl.edu.
You can help rid local natural areas of invasive, exotic plants. Credit: Mark Tancig
Chinese tallow displays red fall color in North Florida. Photo: J_McConnell, UF/IFAS
In northwest Florida as we transition into fall, we don’t usually see a spectacular display of color change in the forest or our landscapes. Mixed in with the evergreen pines, oaks, and magnolias, we get sporadic spots of yellow and red from our native hickories, sweetgum, and sumac but otherwise it can be rather dull. It’s no wonder that people are reluctant to part with a blaze of red in their landscapes in the form of the invasive Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum L. aka Triadica sebifera L.).
This fast growing, deciduous tree was initially introduced to the United States in 1776 by Benjamin Franklin. It was promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s for the potential to create a soap industry. It was planted as an ornamental because it grows quickly in nearly any type of site condition, has attractive white fruit, and red fall color. Unfortunately, over the years it spread into numerous states and habitats unchecked displacing native vegetation and disrupting wildlife food sources. Eventually, it was recognized as an invasive pest and is currently listed as a noxious weed in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
Chinese Tallow is a prolific seed producer and is sexually mature as young as three years and may continue to produce viable seeds to the ripe age of 100. Although some birds eat the berries (part of the dispersal method), sap in the leaves and berries are poisonous to some other animals including cattle.
To prevent the continued spread of this plant, consider removing from your property and replacing with native species. Buy plants from reputable licensed nurseries with good weed management programs. Be able to recognize Chinese Tallow and do not accept plants from well-meaning gardeners who wish to share a foolproof shade tree!
Encroaching brush, whether native or invasive, can be a problem for properties large and small. Fighting woody brush and other hard-to-kill weed species can be challenging for property owners. Many factors affect the effectiveness and efficiency of control efforts.
Timing of the application is a key factor that many property owners fail to consider. The cooler, fall and winter months are an excellent time to control a wide variety of troublesome brush species. With this in mind, the Washington County Extension Agents will be presenting a class, Controlling Brush & Invasive Species on November 9, 2017. The class will focus on plant identification and specific chemical control strategies that are effective in the fall and winter months. Herbicide selection and application techniques will be addressed in detail.
Controlling Brush & Invasive Species will be held at the Washington County Agricultural Center (1424 Jackson Ave., Chipley, FL) on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 6:30 in the evening. Refreshments and printed reference materials will provided. There is a $5 registration fee for the class, payable at the door. Advanced registration for the class is appreciated. If you have questions or would like to register please contact Mark Mauldin at the Washington County Extension Office (850-638-6180 or email@example.com).