UPDATE – This program has ended.
For more information, see this release from FDACS Department of Plant Industry: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/107287/file/AirPotatoBioControlProgramTransition.pdf
About Air Potato Vine and the Air Potato Leaf Beetle
You may recognize the long twining vines and glossy heart-shaped leaves of the exotic air potato vine, but would you recognize its greatest enemy in Florida? Air potato leaf beetles are small red beetles with a black head (see photo on right).
These petite insect larvae turn those large glossy leaves into lacy, hole-filled, skeletonized leaves which significantly reduces the vine’s natural ability to overtake a yard, park, or entire natural area (see photo below, left).
History of the Air Potato Issue
For years residents and park managers battled with air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) as it aggressively covered our landscape. You see, air potato grows prolifically here because it’s not from our neck of the woods and as a result, our ecosystem lacks air potato’s natural predators.
After extensive research on its safety and impact, the air potato leaf beetle was approved for release in Florida. This beetle helps control the air potato vine population by eating its leaves and stunting its growth. The latest data from citizen scientists shows that the air potato leaf beetles are flourishing.
In 2012, the U.S.D.A., the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and UF/IFAS began releasing air potato leaf beetles throughout the state to combat the exotic invasive vine. To learn more about the air potato leaf beetle, see the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department’s “Featured Creatures” page, here: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/BENEFICIAL/BEETLES/air_potato_leaf_beetle.htm
Air Potato Leaf Beetles will reduce the vine, but not eliminate it
After several months of beetle activity, residents should notice the signature lacey-leaf damage the air potato leaf beetles cause. That damage will help weaken the vines and reduce their growth and vigor. However, it is important to note that the beetles will not eradicate the vine from your property.
Biological control agents are one tool in the toolbox when fighting invasive plants, but additional steps are often required for full control. In the case of the air potato vine, residents will see better control if they remove and dispose of (in landfill-bound garbage containers) the “potatoes” left behind by the vine in the fall and winter. These bulbils are abundant when the vine is healthy and can be as large as a bowling ball. Most are around the size of a large apple or sweet potato and are easily removed.
Why should you remove the potatoes?
These potatoes are the “seeds” for next year’s crop of air potato vine. By removing them and throwing them promptly in the garbage bin, NOT the vegetation pile, you are reducing the quantity of vine you’ll have to fight next year!
Consider hosting a neighborhood block party or BBQ and having a contest for the younger generation. Whoever picks up the most air potatoes wins a prize! Picking up the air potatoes is easiest after the vines die back for winter, after a good cold snap.
University of Florida IFAS Extension is committed to diversity of people, thought and opinion, to inclusiveness and to equal opportunity.
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
Originally published in May 2018, revised in March 2020, and updated October 2022.
January 26, 2022
Hi Kathy, I found this information in the FWC Conservation Plan for burrowing owls, "- Provide t-shaped perches less than 24 inches tall near burrows. Perches provide hunting and observation sites for burrowing owls. Placing a t-perch within 10 feet of a burrow is not expected to cause take" - https://myfwc.com/media/2028/floridaburrowingowlguidelines-2018.pdf However, I would advise you contact FWC and ask if it is OK to approach a new burrow: https://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-office/regional-offices/
January 26, 2022
Hi Bree, My understanding is that possessing any owl or bird of prey is illegal without appropriate permits, even if it was dead when you found it. Reach out to FWC for clarity - https://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-office/regional-offices/
January 26, 2022
Hi Joy, This sounds like some breed of domestic duck. It could be a muscovy, but I cannot say with any certainty without photos. You can email me some photos at scarnevale (AT) ufl.edu
November 3, 2021
Thank you for writing this in Spanish. I will use it in my educational materials. It is sometimes difficult to help our Spanish speakers understand this confusing arena of licenses.
October 4, 2021
That's so interesting! Firefly populations, like most insects, do have boom years and then declines and unfortunately, we don't fully understand the cycle or the cause. What I can say is that many species spend up to two years as larvae, so if you had fireflies in larger numbers 3 years ago, and the habitat The fireflies may follow the rocket copters thinking they are a mate, due to the flashing lights. It sounds like a great way to observe some fireflies, but consider only doing it for a short while so they can get back to matchmaking and find a real-life firefly to mate with. :) Thank you for sharing your Florida lightning bug experience with us!
October 4, 2021
Thanks for your comment, Mark. Unfortunately, the firefly populations in Florida are a bit unpredictable. We often don't know which species should be expected where or even when, both seasonally or in a given evening. Your home does sound like it is in prime firefly habitat. I would investigate the way the 400 ac park and large lake are managed. Are they often mown? Do they use pesticides in the grass? Does the lake have an abundance of plants around its edge? Is there an abundant source of light in the evening? Is the lake a natural Florida lake or is it actually a man-made pond? Do you see other wildlife and abundant insect activity? The answers to these questions cannot predict or eliminate the possibility of lightning bug activity, but they can draw a complete picture. Additionally, remember that Florida fireflies are rarely found in the density you describe seeing in New York. Since our species are often active year-round, they are generally seen in smaller numbers. If you can, I would go out to a dark corner of your yard near the creek or the park's edge, right at sunset after a period of frequent rain. You may need a LOT of mosquito protection measures, if you have access to a small portable screen room, that may be the most comfortable option. If that's impractical, consider trying bug netting around your face, long sleeves, long pants, etc, and use as little bug repellant as possible. (Researchers seem unsure if deet and other popular repellants affect fireflies.) Let your eyes adjust to the dark, which can take 15-45 minutes, and just observe the vegetation. See if any fireflies come out. I've had the best luck here in Polk County about 30 minutes after sunset, near shoreline vegetation, after (or during) a rainy day - but not a day where it poured all day. The mosquitoes are out like the plague, but so were the fireflies. Best wishes in your lightning bug quest! Consider our other post about adding firefly habitat, if you see any or want to help support them!
September 9, 2021
Thanks! Shannon, I needed that review!
September 8, 2021
Hi Shannon, We have a new pair of ducks on Scott lake in Lakeland. They are so big I thought they might be geese! The male is all black with a white throat, the female is a mottle grey and white. The smaller mallards seem to find them attractive, and follow them Looking online I think the black Swedish duck might be what I am seeing Otherwise a Muscovy that escaped all the lumps and colors? Thanks for your help, Joy
September 8, 2021
This is wonderful! Great job. I will be posting widely. Thank you.
September 2, 2021
I love the black bean brownie great substitute
August 1, 2021
I moved to Largo, Fl. over 25 years ago. My home backs up to a 400 acre park with a 90 acre lake. There is also a small drainage canal directly behind my property. One would think that this would be an ideal location for fireflies (or what I called lightming bugs.) When previously livng in Brooklyn, lightning bugs were so abundant, we would catch and gather them in containers which would light up like beacons. But here in Florida, I have not seen even one since moving here. I cannot imagine why?!? Mark
July 29, 2021
James, Thanks for sharing that story! I hear similar ones, unfortunately, quite frequently. Fireflies are definitely still here in Polk! We saw a whole bunch a few weeks ago next to a wetland and lake in Mulberry. And, I've seen some in Winter Haven recently, too! Sadly, the story about declining firefly sightings is one heard worldwide.... including in areas without adequate mosquito control. Current research suggests that the most prominent cause of firefly decline is light pollution and habitat destruction. However, research does also suggest that we should reduce broadcast applications of generalist pesticides to help protect the larval stage of the firefly lifecycle, too! In the past few decades, mosquito control has advanced significantly, scientifically. I remember the fog trucks, too, from my childhood in the 90's. Today, the chemicals used for mosquito control are much more specific pesticides than they used to be, targeting mosquitoes specifically. Fortunately, research shows they are impacting far fewer non-target species than pesticides of our past. That said, there are things that communities can do to reduce the impact on firefly populations when they need to control mosquitos: Focus community mosquito treatment on source reduction, or in other words, reduce containers and vessels that can collect standing water to reduce the number of breeding sites for mosquitoes. Avoid spraying generalist insecticides that target flying adults Use species-specific insecticides, only when and where neccessary Turn off area lighting that disrupts firefly mating cycles; change lights to motion sensors.
July 29, 2021
Hi Frank, If you're in Polk County, FL - you can contact me. You'll find my info here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/ If you're outside of Polk County, you can find your local Extension office's contact info here: https://directory.ifas.ufl.edu/Dir/searchdir?pageID=3&pl=05
July 28, 2021
Who can I contact for assistance?
July 23, 2021
I can remember in the mid 60's I was grade school and lived in east polk county well Haines City and during summer I remember as a kid about dusk dark you could go out and lightning bugs would be thick in the night air you could see them everywhere. And now I cant remember when the last time I seen one .but then I think back and remember the truck that would come around and spray mosquitoes we would ride behind the trucks on our bicycles like the little dumb kids we were it's no wonder we dont glow in the dark .but I'm wondering if that spray truck might be why we dont see them like we used too .
July 21, 2021
Unfortunately, since I do not know what part of Florida you want to find fireflies, it’s challenging to recommend a location. However, I suggest reaching out to the nearest state or national park and ask about their firefly populations. Or you can visit the parks mentioned in the blog post, above, during their advertised firefly tours to have a very good chance of firefly sightings. Another way to see fireflies is to safely conduct your very own firefly search within your surrounding area. All you would need to look for is a natural area with trees or tall grasses, which is dark and/or has a water source nearby. Remember, some firefly populations are only out for a few weeks a year and, some species will flash for 45 minutes or less. You may need to go out searching more than once. If you find some fireflies, consider posting your findings to iNaturalist. https://www.inaturalist.org/
July 9, 2021
Where is the best place to see them now?
June 22, 2021
I have 2 acres by a small swamp. At night i go outside and shoot rocket copters. The fireflies come out and try to follow the rocket copters. It only happens for about 4 days out 9f te year and it was about a month ago when i had them. There are not as many as there was 2 years ago when i started the rocket copters.i had about 30 of them back then and now i have maybe 10. Im glad they come out to see me- but im sad every year there are less
June 22, 2021
Thank you, Mrs. Powell, for commenting. Milkweed is an excellent addition to your backyard habitat. If not for fireflies, then for the declining Monarch butterflies. Here is an additional resource for native milkweed: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/milkweed.html If you are having difficulty finding native milkweed at a nursery, here is another resource to help you locate more nurseries with native milkweed. https://www.plantrealflorida.org/
June 22, 2021
Thank you so much for sharing; I am glad this post has reminded you of fun times with your family. I also appreciate you mentioning releasing the fireflies the night you captured them. We always recommend releasing the fireflies the night of capture.
June 19, 2021
Very informative, when I was a child we would visit my grandmother in Chatham, Virginia and at night we would go out at night and catch firer fly's in quart jars. Whoever catch the most got an extra scoop of grandma’s home churned peached ice cream. But we always had to release the fire flys after the chase and contest was over so we could have another game the next evening.
June 15, 2021
Great job, Katie! Now I know how to work on my back yard habitat to increase the chances of attracting fireflies. Need to get some milkweed!
June 8, 2021
Hello! Great question. Some sources are conflicting, but from what I've seen in UF/IFAS Wildlife Extension Specialists' recommendations you will not need to clean out the nest box unless you find it is inhabited by a pest species in the off-season. So, as long as you don't notice squirrels, rats, or other undesired wildlife using the box, your local owls will customize the interiors to their liking without your help. :) Some of nest box recommendations do include "priming" a new nest box with materials to make it more desirable to that particular species. For instance: we recommend adding three inches of untreated wood chips to the bottom of a nest box intended for eastern screech owls.
June 5, 2021
how often should you clean out the nest box ???? and when
May 10, 2021
Hi Dawn, While these February blooms are beautiful, they may not be the best for a bouquet. I would suggest this article on cool season cut flowers for a good list of flowers to grow this winter that can be used in a bouquet: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/outdoor-living/cut-flowers-for-cool-weather.html. For more information on cut flowers, here are two more articles: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/polkco/2018/05/07/planting-a-cutting-garden/ and https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/types-of-gardens/cut-flower-garden.html.
April 30, 2021
Hello, Are any of the above referenced flowers harty enough and long lasting ( for a wedding bouquet?) Daughter's wedding in Pompano late Feb. 2022 and would love to recommend a native/local flower for her wedding event. thank you for answering at your convenience. Mother of the Bride
April 27, 2021
We had a flock of pelicans in Chase Co Kansas to day what beautiful birds... I took some pictures cause you don't see that very often...
April 21, 2021
Hi Jim! Great to hear you got to observe some of these amazing birds! Unfortunately, I can't say with any certainty that they will be back next year. There is evidence that migrating flocks of birds do use the same stopovers, but a lot depends on the year, the weather, the food along the way, and the health of other stopover areas. My best advice when you see wildlife that you are enamored with is to take the time to really observe them and cherish in that moment (from a safe distance that doesn't disturb their behavior). We never do know if they'll return, so it's best to cherish the moments when you get them. :)
April 8, 2021
Hi Tammy, I would be happy to discuss options for the palms. Please contact me by phone at 863-519-1068 or email at email@example.com.
April 7, 2021
Julie, I am a property manager with palms within 12 inches of the buildings and the fronds are pushed up against the buildings and window. One grew into the roof and knocked stucco off so we cut it down. We were about to hurricane cut the remaining trees. How should I handle them so close to the buildings? Thank you.
April 5, 2021
We have a flock of white Pelicans in Kissimmee, in one of our larger residential retention ponds. They have been here for a couple of months now. I found this article trying to learn more about them. Shame they will be leaving! Hopefully, they return once they have found a spot?
March 30, 2021
We are in Cape Coral, FL and just discovered a new burrowing owl nest in the empty lot next to our house. There is definitely a pair of owls with fresh dirt pile. How do you put up a perch for them without stressing them? What should or shouldn’t we do, as we do not own this lot?
March 3, 2021
Saul, I would suggest looking for a company trained in GI-BMPs (Green Industries Best Management Practices) through UF/IFAS. You can find a list of those professionals here: https://gibmp-prod.ifas.ufl.edu/certified Just type in your county and your city. Thanks for the question!
February 25, 2021
could use someone to maintain, trim, gardening, etc. Any suggestions welcome.
February 24, 2021
Gillian, It would be easier for us to ship to an address in the U.S. if you could provide that. Thank you!
February 20, 2021
Hi, do you ship to Canada? We are snowbirds and have a American address too!
February 2, 2021
Cw: dead bird I found a dead barred owl on the side of the highway. I collect and process the bones and pelts of a variety of animals (all roadkill) but I've never come across an owl before now. I am unfamiliar with the legality in FL of processing the remains of Raptors. Is it legal for me to keep the bones and feathers of this owl? If not, do I need to turn the animal cadaver over to a certain department for documentation? My apologies for the morbid question but Google hasn't turned up anything for me and I want to be compliant with FL law.
January 21, 2021
Thank you for writing! What an interesting owl behavior. Owls, like all wildlife, have their own personality and preferences, so anything is possible. It sounds like you are very familiar with burrowing owls and have nests nearby, so I'm going to assume that you've identified the owl correctly. I will say though, the behavior you are describing sounds fairly common for our other tiny owl, the Eastern Screech Owl. While I can't say this is normal or expected, it doesn't sound entirely unexpected if the owls are found in residential areas near you. They've likely become accustomed to the noise and residents (dogs included) and its choice of a perch near your family indicates it doesn't view you or your pets as a threat. That's great! It likely means you haven't inadvertently stressed it. It could be looking for lizards or geckos hiding nearby, or it may simply like the high perch if it can see its burrow from the location. Unless it starts acting odd or approaching your family, I'd encourage you to let it be and leave the owl alone. It should find a new perch eventually. If it starts approaching you, your family, if you notice your presence stressing it, or if it begins acting oddly (stumbling, falling, looking ill), I'd recommend you call Florida Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Alert hotline for advice. You can reach them at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC.
January 9, 2021
We live in South Florida backed up to a park with several burrowing owl nests. Recently one of the owls has decided to spend the day perched on the support bar for our hurricane shutter which is under the patio roof at the back door. Is it normal to have a burrowing owl spending the day 9 feet (up near the ceiling) above ground so close to humans? It arrives every morning and leaves at night, and doesn't seem to be bothered by us or the dog.
January 5, 2021
Good morning Mike, It is essential your sister's friend not do anything to the owls OR their burrow without first obtaining permission from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Burrowing owls are protected from harm and harassment as a Species of Special Concern, as you know. That protection extends to their burrows, so the person in question cannot alter, harass, or harm the borrow (or as mentioned, the owls, their eggs, or their young). You can learn more about the permit options for removing a burrow, here: https://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/protected-wildlife-permits/ or contact the Southwest Regional FWC office here: 863-648-3200
January 5, 2021
You made a good point that proper identification of the insect is important to do first before deciding to hire bee control services. My dog was stung by an insect when I let him play outside yesterday and we're lucky that it wouldn't cause anything bad aside form some inflammation. If I find out what might have stung him, I might need to get them removed from my property.
January 3, 2021
Shannon hi. Yes my sisters friend lives in Florida Lee County. She has several pairs of Burrowing owls in the front yard. We know they are protected. Is there any way of moving them to a open field next to her property. If they build a home out of PVC. The nest is 14” X. 16” with a 4 foot enter and exit, with small T perch. The sand is piled up in front. Or what do you think they should do.
December 24, 2020
Only old style Christmas lights will work. LEDs do not give off any heat. FYI
December 16, 2020
Thank you for the kind words, Patricia! Merrit Island is a beautiful location to watch White Pelicans. I hope you have a nice rest of your holiday season and can enjoy several more squadrons of these majestic birds while they're here for winter.
December 15, 2020
Hi Shannon, Thank you for the wonderful article. I am on Merrit Island and just saw a very large group of white pelicans, and I wanted more information on these beautiful birds. I guess the white pelican squadron many have spotted my resident cormorants and stopped by to feed on the local seafood. Thanks for the info!
December 13, 2020
I live in Jacksonville and I would buy seeds for more of it if I could!
December 11, 2020
Thank you for this! Can never keep Cormorants vs. Anhingas straight
December 6, 2020
Very nice! Will make a nice gift for anyone who has a garden. Get some.
December 1, 2020
Developers And Road Construction Is Destroying Florida. Something Must Be Done To Preserve What Remains. We Don’t Need Any More Roads.
December 1, 2020
Am Real Estate Property Appraiser. Have Seen Grove Lands Converted To Large Tract Housing. Due To Acreage Near Water. Around Auburndale. Didn’t See Truck Loads Of Oranges. Orange Juice Plant In Lakeland Was Idle. County And State Govt’s Need To Preserve These Lands For Agriculture.
November 28, 2020
You don't want that!!!! Seriously bad invasive predatory weed. I know this from experience. Your neighbors won't like it either. Trust me.
November 22, 2020
Hi, a few days ago I went to the garden and saw 2 of the pots with yellow flowers. Are they getting sick?
November 9, 2020
Hi Tom, Thanks for your question! I don't know much about the white pelican's activities in Ohio or in that part of their migratory pattern; but according to a few online sources I could find, it sounds like they are a semi-common occurrence in Ohio in October. Ohio might be a stopover on their journey from Canada to the Gulf states or to Mexico. I know we start seeing them in FL in mid-November. In fact, I saw my first squadron of the year this weekend. A bit early, compared to recent years.
November 9, 2020
I need a bit more information before I can give you a proper identification, but if you are in Florida ... there is a good chance it is a southern black racer (non-venomous). You can learn more about them and see some images of one, here: https://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/snakes/blackracer.shtml Thanks for your curiosity!
November 9, 2020
Just saw a snake about 2 or feet long all black with white lips is it a beauty i need to worry about
October 30, 2020
Sherry, Many people love the look and low-maintenance of basketgrass and that is totally fine. You are correct in that turfgrass will not grow well in shady yards and if basketgrass will thrive, and you like it, that is great! Many of our questions are from homeowners that #1, want to know what basksetgrass is, and #2, want to remove it. If a homeowner does not like the look of basketgrass in shady areas of the landscape, we recommend mulch and low-maintenance plants. Ferns, bromeliads, Asiatic jasmine, coontie cycad, liriope--all are great alternatives in shady landscapes where basketgrass is not desired. The use of chemicals or manual removal is entirely up to the homeowner. Thank you for your comments, I think I will add a "living and loving" basketgrass blog post and if you would like to share some of your photos I would be happy to include them. I myself have a LOT of basketgrass that I am not interested in removing (very time consuming) even though I am not a huge fan of the look. I end up just hand removing as I have time and expand mulched beds--the great thing is that your landscape reflects your personal aesthetic and should be fun and enjoyable. Anyone with photos can send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
October 30, 2020
This is the reason that I can never allow myself to completely trust IFAS. So, basket grass is free, no maintenance, soft, green, and beautiful. Yet, you suggest tearing it out, using deadly chemicals on it, and putting in something "more desirable" that might ultimately out compete the basket grass. I still cannot figure out what is NOT desirable about basket grass--unless, of course, I wanted to spend the time, expense, water, labor, and heartache on St Augustine, which isn't suited to my shady yard.
October 23, 2020
Debbie, We do! If you want to give our office a call, they can let you know what is available. (863) 519-1041.
October 23, 2020
White Pelicans were seen in the Columbus Ohio area yesterday. Any idea as to how long they might stay in place before heading back out on the journey south?
October 22, 2020
Hi Sherry. I agree. I think it's a great ground cover. I live in Ocoee and have plenty to spare. If you still need it email me :)
October 15, 2020
Sounds like the perfect lawn alternative under shade trees. Not "troublesome." "It is shade-tolerant, low-growing and can easily take over an area where turfgrass may be struggling. It requires little to no irrigation or maintenance and will create a dense groundcover if left alone."
October 14, 2020
Unfortunately not much can be done about owl noises at night. They are protected by the migratory bird act so harassing or harming them is illegal. If you are in a rural (and dark area), you might be able to encourage them to move farther away by leaving a bright light on near your home. Light pollution may encourage them to move elsewhere to call for mates, declare territory, or hunt. This could present other issues though, so be thoughtful about using light if you want to try it. Light can attract all sorts of other critters, but generally, they are not as loud as an owl. There isn’t much in the way or scientific literature on this issue since most people are pretty excited to have an owl nearby. So, the suggestions I have mentioned here are anecdotal, only. You might want to consider a white noise machine or a box fan, during the season the owl is calling. This has helped other residents that have called with a similar issue. Thankfully, this is usually a seasonal issue. I hope the owl moves along soon and you’re able to regain your sleep schedule.
October 14, 2020
Hi Larry, If you can get a photo of them, I'm happy to take a look at them and try to identify them! Send me an email at the contact information listed here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/
October 12, 2020
Hi Julie, Do you have books with color pictures & specific information on Florida Friendly plants that I can purchase?
October 8, 2020
I seen a flock of white Pelicans in Navarre, Florida. They were flying around the Gulf Breeze Zoo on Wednesday October 7th 2020. I was fishing on the Santa Rosa Sound.
October 7, 2020
Hi Robert, Great question! I am glad to hear your concern for how changes in your landscape may affect nearby bodies of water. I would be happy to help you! Please contact me at email@example.com so that we can discuss ways to minimize your stormwater runoff. Thank you, Julie Schelb
October 5, 2020
I bought a home in Kathleen about five months ago. I would like to make some changes in the yard, some will not be helpful in terms of water management and others I hope will be helpful. Is there anyway to get advice directly from your office on what will help and how I can accommodate changes to my plans to better protect water runooff?
October 4, 2020
I'm totally with you. This is the best "weed" I have in my yard. I love this stuff. Its so soft to walk on and low growing. Just wish it grew in sunny areas
October 4, 2020
Girl I'm with you. I love this stuff. If you are in orlando I can share some with you.
September 29, 2020
The groundcover we have in the shady backyard does look like basket grass, but it is very low growing, no more than 2 inches high. It is easy to walk on, covers the sandy soil, and my dog runs across it and doesn’t tear it up. For those reasons I like it, but is it really basket grass?
September 25, 2020
Hello, I live near swampy wooded area of Jacksonville. I have an Owl( not sure what kind) that wakes me up around 12 am and 3am. I'm at my wits end. Help me please. [comment edited for privacy]
September 21, 2020
Just curious as it’s been some time since the post ... I’m in central Fl .. have a St Augustine lawn ... have already attempted an eradication using glyphosate ( then plugs from a healthy section ) but the basket is back ( with a vengeance ) and had seed spread to other areas ... I’m looking at “homeopathic “ options using cinnamon bark ... or a “gas attack “ using ethylene ... is there anything that discriminates between the two ... I’m afraid I’m past the mechanical removal point
September 19, 2020
I can give you some samples from my yard to start you off! That grass has flourished with all the rain we've gotten lately and I love it!
September 15, 2020
Just discovered my yard is happily growing Basketgrass...here and there..my lawn guy said it is protected and native....where the patch, is it is certainly pretty but will die back soon...hmm...showed up suddenly, would not mind it really but it seems to pop up all over...there is a swamp across the street from us and I suspect it jumped the street to come for a visit...Hey....it's green....
September 15, 2020
Awesome! You will have to send me photos of what you are doing :)
September 14, 2020
Love mine!! September is almost all filled in. Instead of sketching, I took pictures of September beauties with my phone. I printed, cut out with pinking shears and using a glue stick secured them to the sketch page. So next year I an view the September garden earlier and perhaps add a new color or texture.
September 14, 2020
Hi Geri, poinsettias can be grown in full sun, but will require frost protection in Central Florida. For more information on growing poinsettias, check out these two articles: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/poinsettia.html and https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep349.
September 14, 2020
Oh my GOSH, thank you for the crabgrass control info on this nightmare basketgrass! I have NO idea where this stuff came from but it has invaded my shade garden like nothing I've ever seen before. I'll try it.
September 11, 2020
I would like info on planting poinsettias outside in Poinciana , Fl
September 11, 2020
Jan, While we would be happy to speak with your group, because you are in Pinellas I would suggest that you contat them first. Talk with Theresa Badurek https://directory.ifas.ufl.edu/searchdir?pageID=7&UnitCode=A62&Display=Standard&m=0. If for some reason they don't have a speaker for the topic we can do it no problem! Just want to keep Theresa in the loop! Thanks!
September 8, 2020
The Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society is interested in having a speaker at one of our virtual (Zoom) meetings. Is there anyone at UF/IFAS Polk Extension or a member of the Polk MG who can give a presentation on the topic of Florida natives in containers?
September 2, 2020
We also love basket grass. We have a patch by our hoses that we could share w you if you’d like. Email me Francesca2006 @ bellsouth.net
August 20, 2020
Thanks , go green get rid of st Augustine my whole yard is woods grass it's beautiful I don't water it taking resources from my grandchildren.
August 11, 2020
I live in East Hernando county. It appears that i have two small owl looking birds that look dark in color, almost black sitting on my downspout of my home very well guarded by the bushes. Does anyone know what they are?
August 6, 2020
Eric, We plan to offer Master Gardener Volunteer Training in the summer/fall of 2021. If you would like to be on the list so you will be emailed the applications when they are available, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
August 6, 2020
Andrea, Basketgrass prefers to grow in the shade. That is why you are observing it in the shade in your yard, while you see the Bermudagrass in the sun (it prefers sun).
August 3, 2020
Hi Derek, Usually, I won't identify a snake via description alone because of the very minute differences in species ... but this one is pretty distinct. :) You've found a southern ring-neck snake and they are common throughout Florida. They eat insects, earthworms, and the like and are usually very secretive. They spend most of their time in dark, moist areas of leaf litter, under log or rocks, etc. you can learn more about them, here: https://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/snakes/ringneckedsnake.shtml https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/diadophis-punctatus-punctatus/#:~:text=Southern%20Ringneck%20Snake&text=Description%3A%20Average%20adult%20size%20is,moon%20spots%20down%20the%20center. If this ISNT your snake, let me know and send me some photos.
August 1, 2020
I found a snake in my pool it was black with an orange bottom and a gold ring around its head what is it.
July 27, 2020
Hi Maryanne, I'm sorry to hear about the owl deaths you've seen. It's hard to tell from your comment if you are finding them dead from suspected natural causes or from human misconduct, but it's sad either way. If the area has a rodent issue, rat poison can cause death in our birds of prey as they find and eat the dead or dying rats. Avoid rat poison when possible, use other means to eliminate rodent issues like habitat modification and traps. See here for more info: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/DH/DH04400.pdf If you suspect human misconduct, I encourage you to reach out to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to report the issue. You can call their Wildlife Alert Hotline, here: WILDLIFE ALERT Suspect a crime against Florida’s fish, wildlife or natural resources? See an injured animal? Report incidents online or call 888-404-FWCC (3922). Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.
July 27, 2020
Brian, Yes it does die back in the winter. You may want to look for an evergreen groundcover such as Asiatic Jasmine, mondo grass, or Liriope. Thanks!
July 27, 2020
Dougbug, one of our Master Gardener Volunteers took it. Would you like a copy of the photo? Just send me an email!
July 24, 2020
I'm Maryanne [edited for privacy], I live [edited for privacy] in Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee. Probably really late to tell you this I didn't know how to get ahold of anybody. I live here 7 years, each year they've killed two to three owls a year. This really upsets me. There's property across the way and they've been working on it for about 3 months or so,and I did not know how to stop any of this. I just wanted to let someone know. [Edited for length and clarity]
July 21, 2020
Oh, no you killed them!?!?!
July 21, 2020
Hey! I was going to do a blog on the Spanish moth (convict caterpillar), which I think is in your banner picture (borer in crinum stem?) on this page....who took that? The adult is beautiful! I'll have to share pics w you-all!
July 20, 2020
When is the next Master Gardener training program offered?
July 18, 2020
We have basketgrass growing in a shady part of our back yard. We like that it is covering what is typically a dirt patch. We would like a ground cover that will cover up the dirt patch year round. Does basketgrass die back in the winter? We're in Tallahassee, FL. Thanks!
July 15, 2020
Hi Scott! Thanks for the comment and your questions. It's hard to know why wildlife do things, sometimes, so I can't answer your question as directly as you would probably like me too. But, I can make recommendations on how to watch wildlife without disturbing them, and if that was the cause ... hopefully, it won't happen again. Additionally, owls frequently have several roosting spots to choose from. It's possible they may have relocated or they may have had a nest fail. Having a nest box in the backyard is a wonderful thing, but it's important to remember that wildlife parents are just as, if not more, protective of their young as human parents are. So, if you have a nesting family, you'll want to give them plenty of space. I recommend getting a set of binoculars, even low-powered ones, so you can watch the family up close but remain a good distance away. If the owls turned to look at you, then you are too close. Immediately stop moving and then slowly back away. You should make note of where that location of "too close" was, and avoid getting that close again. If the nestbox is in an area of the yard you must travel through to do maintenance or lawn care, then the owls will either get used to your presence OR, will relocate if they feel threatened. Perhaps another owl pair will take up residence in the nest box and will be more tolerant of your presence. Ultimately, you need to slowly and passively build trust that you are not a threat. The same goes for other family members. Current research suggests birds of many species can differentiate between broad types of people (ie, long hair/short hair, tall/short, thin/rotund, brunette/blonde, etc) and will remember who is a threat. If someone who looks somewhat like you has harassed or threatened that specific owl pair previously, they may be more hesitant around you and have a larger "safe zone" that they prefer you do not enter. If they react to you or a family member but tolerate other people, it is a sign that this unfortunate situation may be at play. OTherwise, you or a family member may have simply gotten too close, too many times and they decided to relocate.
July 14, 2020
Luv your site...had a black racer come in the house....thought it was a pygmy rattler...but your site set me straight....thx!
July 12, 2020
Thanks for the information on lawn care.
July 7, 2020
As some others have said, I,love my basketgrass and would be happy to have it grow everywhere. I don't have nor do I want a lawn, so this is ideal!
June 30, 2020
Hi Robert, Our office is not currently offering classes for these exams, but several of our partnering county extension offices are. You can find an online class through Manatee County, here: https://ifas-manatee.catalog.instructure.com/browse/landscape-pros/courses/lclm They have instructional material for purchase, on that page. You can find additional classes from that office, here: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/pesticide-amp-best-management-practices-classes-15505709468 If you have additional questions, please reach out to our receptionist, Joy, and she can help direct your call to someone who can help. Reach our front desk, here: 863-519-1041
June 28, 2020
Hello As the owner of a Landscaping Company, I am interested in pursuing the Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance (LCLM) Training in order to take the exam for the Limited Certification Landscape Maintenance pesticide license (more commonly called the Caution-labeled or Round-up®️ license). Can you please provide me with all the necessary details (such as class date, study materials, cost, etc) as soon as possible? Thank you. Regards,
June 26, 2020
How much sun can our Central Florida basketgrass take? My lawn is challenging because part of it srays so sunny it will grow bermudagrass, the other part so shady (under HUGE black-ear trees) it just grows this basketgrass. In hoping the basketgrass can take over the bermuda for aesthetics.
June 24, 2020
I live in Humble, Tx and it has invaded my yard also. Spent countless hours pulling it, but comes back too fast. Everything I put on it to kill it also kills the St. Augustine. I gave up a few years ago and my lawn looks terrible.
June 23, 2020
Dana, The best way to get rid of basketgrass is handpulling or using a non-selective herbicide (like glyphosate) on the weeds. There is no selective herbicide for basketgrass. If it is in an area where you can mulch it, a good 2-3 inch layer of mulch may do the trick. I am not sure what county you are in in TX, but you can contact your local Extension office here: https://agrilifepeople.tamu.edu/extensionLists/counties they may have some guidance for you as well. Good luck--basketgrass is a tricky weed to control! Anne
June 23, 2020
Judy, It sounds like you have mealybugs. Can you get close enough to the insects to confirm? There is some information in this blog post on how to get rid of them: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/monroeco/2009/09/16/mealybugs-come-in-all-shapes-and-colors/ I would suggest trying the method of spraying with water and if that doesn't work, trying a horticultural soap. Additionally, if the infestation is bad, you can try trimming all of the leaves back. Just make sure to put those infected leaves into the trash and not into the compost pile. Anne
June 22, 2020
Hi Jodi, thanks for the question! Unfortunately, I can't positively identify which owl you might be hearing from that description. :) Check out this webinar I did with a colleague on identifying owls and you might hear the call you're hearing: https://youtu.be/XhTFTNucDcw The webinar will only cover their most common calls, but each species has several. You can hear a larger variety of owl calls, here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/ Just search for the species you want to hear calls from.
June 22, 2020
Hi Karen! This sounds like a job for a Barn Owl box. Barn owls are excellent rodent hunters and prefer open habitats like fields and pastures. I would recommend placing the nest box away from houses, as much as possible, to give the owls some space and encourage them to move in. You can learn more about the species here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Owl/ You can find plans for a barn owl box, here: https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/barn-owl/ Feel free to email me if you have any questions!
June 22, 2020
Hi Laura, It certainly sounds like a family to me! Young owls will often hang out with mama or with both parents for a short period after fledging to learn how to hunt. They make for some adorable sightings, that's for sure! If you are interested, check out this website (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/) and look for the species you think you saw. They often have a variety of calls, especially with their young, so it may be one of their less common calls that you are hearing. :)
June 22, 2020
Hi Joni, Both of our larger owl species are capable of taking other birds as prey items. The best thing you can do for your chicken flock is to ensure their nighttime roost and run is secure and predator-proof. You can consider installing netting over their run which can prevent raptor species like owls and eagles from reaching your flock. Shrubs can help provide cover to your flock as well. Owls, and all other raptor species like eagles, are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Act and by the State of Florida, so be sure not to harm or harass them, their young, or their nests.
June 19, 2020
I have what seems to be 3 barred owls hanging out on the power lines and trees in front of my house. They do make a screeching sound, which is new to me. The biggest concern for me, my chickens behind my house. I got a few pictures from my sidewalk, however, they weren’t happy with the photo shoot and one flew right over my head.
June 17, 2020
What can I do for plants that have white fungi like in your picture. I’d rather not use chemicals as I want to have butterfly’s enjoy. Is there something safe I can use?
June 16, 2020
I live in The Woodlands, Texas. This stuff has invaded my yard. The shallow root system spreads fast. Pulling it seems to make it worse. Agrilawn does kill it but it grows so fast it seems to be impossible to get it all. At this point, I’m considering pulling up the grass and starting over with new st Augustine. What pre emergent can I use next year. And would it be helpful to add topsoil early spring?
June 16, 2020
I had 6 or 7 little owls in my yard tonight. It was dusk so hard to take pictures but they were bigger than screech and smaller than barred. I always thought they were solitary. Could it have been a little brood still sticking with parents? They didn't hoot. More like chattered at me. So cute! I'm in Levy County.
May 25, 2020
Sherry, I have basket grass growing in my yard. It dies back in the winter but it's just starting to make it's summer appearance. Happy for you to have some if you haven't found some yet. Sylvia Weigand
May 21, 2020
Hey there! So i'm trying to find a new way of helping with rodents around our barn. We are located around Lithia, FL and have about 7 acres and the back of our property is another pasture with rescue horses and cattle. We have an empty chicken coop that rats have decided to make their home and I really don't want to put poison out to try and control the problem. We also have pigs and horses near that chicken coop in the barn. I'm trying to decide what kind of owl box I should get and if that would help control the issue we are having before going a different route. We have tried having barn cats but they ended up just coming to the main house bringing us birds and squirrels so we re homed them.
May 21, 2020
Hi Shannon, I live in Fishhawk (Hillsborough) on protected conservation with tall trees and lots of habitat and wildlife. I have been awakened several times over the past few months between 3:00 - 4:30am by I believe to be an owl who screeches one time then makes the "who" sounds. Is this an eastern screech owl? Please advise Thanks very much Jodi
May 20, 2020
I am using Halts Crabgrass Preventer in March, May and later in fall. It has successfully suppressed the BasketGrass that was overtaking parts of my lawn in the shade. It does not kill but is a pre-emergent/preventer. I found that I need more than one application during the growing season. I have also tried sprinkling baking soda on it and it kills the BasketGrass without killing my St. Augustine grass, but it does stunt St. Augustine a bit. Changes the Ph. Also hard to apply.
May 20, 2020
May 20, 2020
Good morning Graham, Thanks for the comment. As always, feel free to send photos or video to me. My contact info is found here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/
May 19, 2020
Thank you so much . Very informative ,and useful for children. Excellent thinking.
May 19, 2020
Hey Shannon, Great article. I have what seems to be a pair of tiny burrowing owls that have staked out a home in mine and my neighbor's backyard in Sarasota. Could you contact me directly to possibly confirm this? I have a couple of photos and a video of them. Thanks!
May 9, 2020
We built a nest box and were pleasantly surprised how quickly it was occupied. First a male we assume and then a mate.we have been hoping for babies. However we have not seem them in about four days after seeing them almost nightly during our sunset owl watch. Any idea if they have left? We are concerned the attention we were giving them may have scared them off. Could this have happened? We live on the west coast in Manatee County
May 7, 2020
Hi David, You should receive a renewel notice from FDACs approximately 60 days prior to the expiration of your license. It will include instructions for you. See here: https://www.fdacs.gov/Business-Services/Pesticide-Licensing/Pesticide-Applicator-Licenses/Pesticide-Applicator-Certification-and-Licensing or here: https://aesecomm.freshfromflorida.com/ChooseLicenseCategory.aspx?msg=renew for more information. If you need additional assistance and cannot get ahold of the state pesticide certification office ((850) 617-7870), please give us a call at 863-519-1041 and we will try to assist you.
May 5, 2020
I need to renew my license, where do i send my CEUs ?
May 4, 2020
Boyd, thanks for your comment! It may help slightly, but make sure if you do this, to use a bowl or in a sanitized sink otherwise would reduce any benefit. Many of our sinks may not be sanitized so the running water would be the way to go. Also, running water can reduce the majority of surface microbes, and for most produce the incident of pesticides (over the safe limit) is low. Lot of things go into the mix! Thank you!
May 3, 2020
Wash fruits and vegetables with a vinegar and water solution. It will remove any pesticides that may be present. The solution is, one cup vinegar to three cups water according to the doctors. This is recommended by the American cancer society.
May 1, 2020
I saw an extremely last flock I believe to be the white pelicans fly over north city in St. Louis, MO April 8, 2020. The flock was so large and they flew in a pattern similar to a murmuration of starlings... however they were flying to high and so large in size I knew they were not starlings, and their underbelly was white. They swarmed continuously... and then were gone before I could follow their next path of flight. The flock appeared easily over 200 birds in flight... it was the first time I ever saw such a large flock in St. Louis City.
May 1, 2020
Hi Joann! Yes, please feel free to send those emails my way. :) You can send them to email@example.com and I'll get back to you with some answers. They sound like eastern screech owls, but I'd like to see the pictures before confirming that.
May 1, 2020
Hi Pam, Yes! You can click the word "RECORDING" next to the date for the snakes webinar, and it will take you to the recording. Recordings will usually be posted by Friday, the week of the Monday webinar. Thanks for your interest!
April 29, 2020
Is the snake talk available?
April 28, 2020
That's great! Thank you for reading and sharing your Easter surprise. :) Happy to help provide information about these wonderful birds!
April 28, 2020
Betty, Good question! I hadn't noticed it was a species not covered in the blog post. That duck is a Black Belly Whistling duck and you can find more information about therm here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-bellied_Whistling-Duck/overview Thanks for your interest!
April 28, 2020
Hi Ryan, you can find online CEUs here: https://ifas-pest.catalog.instructure.com/ For more information, please contact our reception desk: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 28, 2020
Hi Karen, You can click here to register for future webinars: https://bit.ly/wildlife-of-florida And, you can find the coyotes recording, here: https://youtu.be/2Io1guQacqM
April 28, 2020
Hi Jim, Thank you for the reminder! I've just added the link to the post, but here it is: https://youtu.be/2Io1guQacqM Thank you for your interest.
April 27, 2020
Missed the coyote talk. Where can I find the recording? Thanks!
April 26, 2020
Hello - We have found two small owls in our yard recently. They are in adjacent trees - but do not look alike. At first we thought one was a fledgling, and the other a parent, but they are both pretty small. One seems to stay in a dead hollowed out palm tree, and the other one stays in the branches of a carrotwood tree not too far away. Is there an email that I could send photos? We are trying to figure out if they are being fed, and are OK. We are just leaving them alone but I'd love to know more about them! From Fort Myers Thank you so much for helping!
April 24, 2020
Good afternoon, I would like to register for the Florida Wildlife webinar. I am hoping I will still be able to see this last Monday’s recording in Coyotes. Thank you, Karen
April 23, 2020
Can I do the 6 hour course online?
April 23, 2020
Thanks for sharing this post. After reading your blog, I think every person should try something new chapter in their life.
April 22, 2020
Ryan, The Florida Homeowner Herbicide Guide contains the most up-to-date weed control information from UF/IFAS. Access it here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep575
April 22, 2020
Basketgrass is not commercially available, but you could probably find it in the yard of a friend or neighbor if you really would like to grow it in your yard.
April 22, 2020
You sure can repot and replant your oakleaf hydrangea. As far as forysthia, there are none that will grow here in Florida, but there are some other plants that can give you that same look. Firecracker plant will have that weeping habit and has small red flowers. If you are missing the yellow forsythia blooms, maybe try senna or thryallis.
April 20, 2020
What is the name of the duck you showcase on entering your site: brown with gray head and bright orange beak?
April 14, 2020
I have an oakleaf hydrangea growing in my yard and several "pups' have popped up surrounding parent plant. Can I did these up and plant elsewhere? If so, what are the guidelines? Thanks in advance for information.. Second, what type of forsythia will grow in Zone 9?
April 12, 2020
I am in Naples, Florida on this Easter Sunday, but have just received an email from our daughter in northwest suburban Chicago. (Barrington Hills, Illinois 60010. Old Sutton Road address.) There are at least 50 white pelicans on our pond, probably more than that. We have never seen them in the area before today. What a wonderful Easter gift!
April 12, 2020
I actually WANT basketgrass! It’s the only green ground covering that will grow in my yard in the shade. How/where can I get some?
April 11, 2020
Nice posting. I have more time caring for my garden on these days of being social distancing. Thanks for sharing such helpful tips.
April 7, 2020
Good morning Madi, Apologies for the delayed response, but I wanted to be sure I had an accurate answer for you! According to one of our UF/IFAS researchers (who was instrumental in the air potato leaf beetle program in Florida), there are an abundance of predators here! She has personally watched lizards and birds eating the beetles and frequently, wasps will eat the larva. I cannot promise that this answer will hold true for areas outside of Florida, but there are numerous predators locally. Great question and I hope you have a lovely day!
April 7, 2020
Thanks so much for your comment, Patrick! I agree - they are quite majestic in the air! A bit goofy in the water, but what pelican isn't? ha! There have been a number of sightings in your area this year, so you might see them again. Your area is in the middle of the White Pelican's migration path to and from their winter refuges and spring breeding grounds. You can learn more about their typical range, here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_White_Pelican/overview Congrats on such a fun sighting, keep an eye in the sky.
April 7, 2020
Hi Shirley, That's an exciting sight in East Tennessee! From what I can find, American white pelicans are becoming a more common sight in Tennessee reservoirs and large lakes both over the winter and as a spring stop-over for their migration North. The standard range maps do not include your part of the state, so I cannot estimate how long they will linger. Likely, this is just a stop over before the head to their breeding grounds in the Mid-West or Central Canada, so I recommend enjoying them as long as they are hanging around and fishing. See here for their range map: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_White_Pelican/overview You can learn more about how they are becoming a more frequent sight, here: https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds/waterbirds/american-white-pelican.html and view a map of recent sightings, here: https://ebird.org/map/amwpel?neg=false&env.minX=-93.07576686875001&env.minY=33.044838421133555&env.maxX=-79.01326686875001&env.maxY=38.4529633366016&zh=true&gp=true&ev=Z&mr=1-12&bmo=1&emo=12&yr=cur Congrats on spotting one of our largest North American birds, the American White Pelican!
April 6, 2020
Hi Thomas, According to the Comm. of Agriculture's website all pesticide application licenses will be extended 30 days if they expire in April and they will be considering an additional 30-day extension in the coming weeks. You mention yours expires in May, so unfortunately I do not have any additional information at this time. I'd recommend you keep an eye on Commissioner Fried's updates and website. See here: https://www.fdacs.gov/Divisions-Offices/Agricultural-Environmental-Services You cannot take the test online, but there are some CEU's available online at: https://ifas-pest.catalog.instructure.com/ and for information on how to enroll, see here: https://pested.ifas.ufl.edu/online-ceu-guidance/ Best wishes and stay safe!
April 6, 2020
My limited commercial spraying license expires in May I need to renew them. How can I get it done before then? I'm in polk county FL. Because of the covid19 will they extend my deadline for renewal? Can I do class online.
April 3, 2020
I have been dealing with this for several years now! A challenge to say the least. Are there any pre-emergent products that are working to fight off the basketgrass before it sprouts up in the spring? Are you getting any info that a product might be forthcoming?
April 2, 2020
We have a large group of white Pelicans here on watts bar lake in Tn. They have been here for a couple of weeks. Get up ever day and hope they are still here . Enjoy watching them so much Wonder how long they will stay here?
April 1, 2020
Yes! Beautiful sight crossing over Crab Orchard Lake in southern IL this morning. I’ve never seen such a sight! So majestic, flying in formation and floating over wide areas of the lake. Couldn’t wait to search online, thrilled to learn I’d been treated to a special performance of the American White Pelicans.
March 30, 2020
Hi Kathy, Great eyes! Yes, according to iNauralist, there were a few sightings in your general area in the last month. :) See below: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40663469 https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/39778309 https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40057903
March 28, 2020
We saw a huge flock of birds that may haven white pelicans fly over south St. Louis, MO., heading north close to the Mississippi River. This is in March, 2020. Would this be possible? Kathy
March 22, 2020
Does the beetle have a predator??
March 18, 2020
We do offer composting workshops, and hope to have some on our schedule as soon as we are able to get back into public programming. Here is some information to get you started: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gx7lae6qx7j23ev/AAAXkuD6Xv6MqqXWCUMNBLO_a/Home%20Composting%20Greens%20and%20Browns.pdf?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gx7lae6qx7j23ev/AAAXkuD6Xv6MqqXWCUMNBLO_a/Home%20Composting%20Greens%20and%20Browns.pdf?dl=0 https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP32300.pdf
March 13, 2020
Are there any tutorials or workshops in Polk County on composting at home?
March 9, 2020
Good morning Mr. Rutstein, Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is the agency in charge of air potato beetles now and you can request beetles online or by phone. Here are the instructions from FDACS: Visit www.fdacs.gov/APB to fill out a request form online. If you don’t have internet, feel free to call our office: (352) 395-4745 to submit your request by phone.
March 8, 2020
We got some last year. Hope we can again this year. Thank you they started to work, not enough time.
February 24, 2020
De rien, bien sur! Merci d'avoir lu mon article! Je suis heureux que vous ayez apprécié votre temps à explorer la Floride et sa faune. Si vous souhaitez des informations supplémentaires, pensez à notre série de blogs Commonly Confused Wildlife en Floride: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/global/tag/commonly-confused/ Revenez nous voir bientôt!
February 23, 2020
Merci! ces photos et informations me sont très utiles pour identifier les photos prises à Orlando Wetlands park et dans d'autres parcs autour. Un safari photos inoubliable!
February 17, 2020
We are here on Lake Bentley in Lakeland, Fl. There are 13 White Pelicans on our lake here. They are so majestic, love to see them come each year.
January 30, 2020
Good morning Mr. Hemphill, I typically do not recommend treating pondweed as it is a very beneficial native plant. If you need to treat it in certain areas, like around boat ramps, herbicide can work as you've seen. Refer to this document for herbicide recommendations: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/AG/AG26200.pdf Dr. Canfield is an expert in the field, so I would defer to his recommendations. As for grass carp, they can be useful for overly abundant aquatic plant populations but I encourage co-existence and light management of our native plant species and more aggressive management of invasive species, only. Pondweed is a preferred species for grass carp, so it would be an appropriate use if stocked properly with a permit form Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. But, as I mentioned earlier, Illinois pondweed is a hugely beneficial native plant that typically does not need aggressive management in natural lake ecosystems. Please feel free to shoot me an email for more specific recommendations for reducing native plant conflict with boating. I hope this is helpful! Shannon
January 30, 2020
Mr. Bly, you may submit samples to the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Laboratory in Gainesville. Here is a link where you can choose the appropriate form for the site you are sampling and instructions for collecting and shipping your samples. https://soilslab.ifas.ufl.edu/ESTL%20Tests.asp
January 30, 2020
4165 Albritten Rd Mulberry,fl 33860 Do you possible have any information on the soil in that area for fertilizer. If I need to bring in a soil sample pleas provide the location and what type of container to bring it to.
December 10, 2019
I enjoy hunting for natural elements to create Christmas centerpieces for family and friends for gifts. I not only get my nature fix but get some gifts made as well.
December 6, 2019
I don't know of any allergens in Basketgrass, but I found this document from the UF Small Animal Hospital that explains a little bit about skin allergies in dogs: https://vetmed-hospitals-smallanimal.sites.medinfo.ufl.edu/files/2011/09/Skin-Diseases-in-Dogs-client-guide.pdf We do not have any data showing it to be invasive in central Florida, so unless it is bothersome to you, it doesn't have to be removed. Good luck!
December 6, 2019
Joyce, It sounds like your Sago is fruiting, which is great> http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/outreach/plant_id/ornamentals/sago_palm.shtml Good luck!
December 5, 2019
Hi Daniel, The most reliable place I am familiar with would be in Cape Coral, FL. Here is a link to their local "friends" website with some best practices for observing the owls, respectfully. They may have more specific information on where you might be able to photograph the spunky little guys. http://ccfriendsofwildlife.org/burrowing-owl/ There are certainly other places in Florida that you can observe and photograph them, but Cape Coral is fairly famous, locally, for their population. Consider reaching out to the local Audubon or Sierra Club groups in South Florida, or nearer to wherever you will be travelling. They will have better information on local populations. Thanks for reading and for your interest in these beautiful creatures; a personal favorite of mine! I hope you have a nice holiday in Florida. Welcome (or welcome back) to the Sunshine State!
December 4, 2019
Hi Lonnie, Thanks for your comment and question. Yes, it is likely just a coincidence and would encourage you to get a photo of the insect damaging your bougainvillea shrub and if you would like some help with insect identification, we are here to help! Please contact us, at the plant clinic, for help identifying what is causing damage and we can likely recommend a targeted treatment plan. Find the information for the Plant Clinic here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/gardening-and-landscaping/residential-horticulture/ Air potato leaf beetles were tested on all sorts of native and exotic plants commonly used in landscaping, for years, and they have been determined to have no adverse effect to other plant species. If you are certain they are eating your bougainvillea, please do get a photo of the beetles eating and damaging your shrub as this would be a very important finding to report. Please see the contact information for Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services here: https://www.fdacs.gov/Divisions-Offices/Plant-Industry/Bureaus-and-Services/Bureau-Of-Methods-Development-Biological-Control/Biological-Control/Air-Potato-Vine-Biological-Control As to the lack of damage on the air potato vine, is it possible you have winged yam and not air potato? The two vines look incredibly similar and can be difficult to differentiate for a lot of people. You can learn more about Air Potato vine identification, compared to winged yam, here: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/76447/file/Air%20Potato%20Quick%20Identification%20Guide.pdf Even though the vines are super similar, the air potato leaf beetles will not eat or damage winged yam.
December 1, 2019
This may be a coincidence, but about 3 weeks after the air potato beetles were released on our property, something started to eat the leaves off of our very large beaugainvillea plant that was right where the beetles were released. We have been here 6 years and the plant had always looked beautiful until these beetles were released. As far as the air potato plant leaves, they showed no signs of being eaten by the beetles. So I am fairly convinced that the air potato beetle is what was devouring our beaugainvillea. I sprayed it numerous times starting in late October and it looks to be slowly recovering
December 1, 2019
I will be in Florida during January and February. I do nature photography. Where is a spot I could observe the owl?
November 18, 2019
Good morning Kathy, Fantastic observation and great questions! Unfortunately, yes this is a real problem for Florida Ducks. Both feral mallards and muscovy ducks are harmful to our native Florida mottled duck and our other native waterfowl species. Mallards, naturally, should migrate north prior to the mottled duck breeding season but feral mallards that do not know how to migrate can and often do, breed with our endemic mottled duck. Endemic means a species that is native to only one area or ecosystem, worldwide, and as such, is a naturally rare species. Hybridization of that species with feral mallards is a real risk to the mottled duck's long term existence. From Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, "Every mallard released in Florida can potentially contribute to the hybridization problem and the result is that fewer and fewer pure-bred Florida mottled ducks are left each year. An estimated 7 to 12 percent of mottled ducks are already exhibiting genetic evidence of hybridization and biologists list this hybridization as the biggest immediate threat to the conservation of Florida's mottled duck." You can read more about this, here: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/waterfowl/hybridization/ Muscovy ducks are an invasive species (nonnative species causing harm to native species) in Florida, that originally escaped from captivity or were released intentionally. These nuisance ducks are concerning because their populations increase quickly and they can and do spread disease to and interbreed with our native duck species. You can learn more about them, here: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/birds/waterfowl/muscovy-duck/
November 17, 2019
It seems that we have mottled ducks and mallards interbreeding frequently in our Tampa neighborhood; the resulting next generation are everything from what look like male mallards lacking the brilliant head/neck colors, to females with characteristics of both species. Recently a muscovy had a clutch which included 2 males that, when matured, were an unusual but beautiful liver brown color. Is this type of cross-breeding common?
November 16, 2019
Hi, I am in the Hawthorne area of Florida, I discovered what I was told is Wavyleaf Basket Grass in my yard in the late summer of 2018. Unfortunately my chihuahua mix fur baby is allergic to it and it has been hard on him, he licks his feet raw and scratches his ears raw as well. Of course we are doing all we can think of for him but my husband seems skeptical that I am correct about the cause and has not gotten aggressive with eradicating. Do you know of any other cases of this problem? And I’ve read about the grass in Virginia and Maryland and it seems eradicating it is a good idea period.
November 12, 2019
Shannon I am president of the Prairie Lake HOA , Seminole County. and our lake manager. I just talked to Dr.Dan Canfield this morning about treating our Illinois Pondweed in our lake. Our lake seems like your description in your article. Our concern is boating and getting it wrapped around our props. We have been treating it for the last 3 years with aquathol and diquat. It thins it out but does not kill it. This year it seems like it has a resistance to that combination of herbicide. We are looking at using grass carp to control it, or something else to "spot" treat it. Any ideas. William Hemphill President Prairie Lake HOA 407 493 0227
October 30, 2019
I have a question on what to do with a female Sego Palm that has developed a large cabbage like center this year after being in the ground for 14 years. Should I remove this growth or let nature take its course?
October 22, 2019
Mary, See the above comment where I shared this information regarding glyphosate. I will paste it here as well: UF/IFAS recommends glyphosate products as a “tool” in your “toolbox” of weed control measures. This could also include things like other herbicide products, proper mulching and flame weeding if that is appropriate to the location you are managing. I would refer you to this article on gylphosate and remind you that it is very important to read all labels on pest control products. https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/stlucieco/2018/11/02/human-and-environmental-risks-for-the-use-of-glyphosate-herbicide-in-weed-control/ This is also quite helpful in explaining toxicity of glyphosate: https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2016/05/27/challenges-for-use-of-glyphosate-alternatives-in-urban-landscapes/ Thank you for your comment.
October 21, 2019
Good morning, Eric! Without knowing the species, it's hard to share accurate information. What I can tell you is that several owl species in Florida will tend to young that have left the nest for several weeks, or even months. Owlets are often clumsy, poor fliers, and easy to spot. As a result, this is the time that people most often notice them. When approached, they will try to look intimidating (although, it's usually pretty adorable) and may screech in your general direction to try and convince you to leave them alone. The parent, for several weeks or months depending on species, is likely watching from afar and bringing the owlet food as it learns to hunt and fly. Since they are much better camouflaged than the owlet, we (humans) often overlook the adults nearby. You made the best decision possible by leaving the owlet to its own devices. You're helping protect and raise a local raptor by teaching it to fend for itself and that humans are not a source of food or comfort. Well-done!
October 21, 2019
Hi Mark, Great question! While I can't offer an exact explanation because nature often marches to beat of her own drum, I can say that it is certainly possible that what you are hearing is an owlet "begging" for food after the adult owl has determined it's time for them to "move out." After great horned owlets leave the nest, they are generally poor fliers for several weeks and are tended to by the parents. The young, even after they learn to fly, will roost together for several months, learning how to hunt and observing the parents (who roost separately to encourage independence in the owlets, usually). According to Cornell's lab of Ornithology, "Fledged owls remain with parents throughout most of the summer and may be seen begging for food into October, four to five months after leaving the nest." On the other hand, owls will make calls throughout all the seasons of the year, for one reason or another. Courtship tends to take place during fall in Florida, with eggs laid as early as November . So, it's entirely possible you're actually hearing some form of courtship, nest placement dispute, or territory defense. Either way, enjoying those nightly calls is an excellent way to connect with your local wildlife populations! :) Thank you for sharing.
October 21, 2019
Good morning, Maria, Thank you for writing all the way from Mexico! White Pelicans are migratory, for the most part, but they do occasionally take up year-round residence in the warmer part of their annual territory. The flocks that do not head back north are known as "resident" populations, or in other words, they live in the given area year-round. For instance, in the state of Durango, Mexico, there is a breeding, year-round population of white pelicans. It's possible that over time, the lone white pelican you're seeing may join their ranks. Alternatively, when the majority of white pelicans fly south for winter, the lone pelican may join one of those populations. For specifics on your local white pelican populations and their "normal" migration patterns and behavior, I recommend reaching out to a local wildlife biologist or ecologist. Or, try contacting a wildlife specialist at a local zoo or conservation organization. They will know better what is normal for white pelicans in Mexico, than I.
October 20, 2019
Hello! Tere is One white pelican that was left behind her flock . Can you tell me ir there is somethig that we can do ? She is in a pond in a park in San Luis Potosí México.
October 20, 2019
Please no gylphosate! Poisonous to people also.
October 12, 2019
I have been hearing, night after night, what sound like two juvenile Great Horned Owls calling from slightly different locations in the forest near my home in Lake County. It seems too early for juveniles, or do the young ones keep that screeching up for months after fledging?
October 12, 2019
It is possible. Cattle will not, generally, forage on citrus foliage and it is not toxic.
October 12, 2019
is it possible to have both citrus, and cattle on the same tract of land?
October 10, 2019
Live in Indialantic near to the beach. Just found a young owl (owlet ) in my garden. I am leaving it alone, so parents will tend to it. How long will it stay this close to people, and do the parents live close by.
October 3, 2019
Hi Joan, The instructions are detailed in the blog post under, "How to request beetles for your property." I encourage you to reach out to your local UF IFAS Extension office first though and verify the vine's identification. We have two or three native vines that look similar, which the beetles will not eat. You can find your local office here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/
October 2, 2019
Would like to get some Beatles we have those vine all around. How can we get some.
September 18, 2019
Jitka, It is safe for your horses to eat. Not a problem!
September 18, 2019
Sashi, UF/IFAS recommends gylphosate products as a "tool" in your "toolbox" of weed control measures. This could also include things like other herbicide products, proper mulching and flame weeding if that is appropriate to the location you are managing. I would refer you to this article on gylphosate and remind you that it is very important to read all labels on pest control products. https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/stlucieco/2018/11/02/human-and-environmental-risks-for-the-use-of-glyphosate-herbicide-in-weed-control/ I am happy to answer any additional questions on weed control. Thanks for your comment.
September 18, 2019
Yoli, Yes, you plant cut flowers in the fall. Many of the plants/flowers listed here will be lovely additions to your yard and for bouquets: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/types-of-gardens/cut-flower-garden.html Good luck!
September 17, 2019
I agree with the fans of basketgrass. It recently took over my otherwise bare or overgrown with chamberbitter horse paddock. It looks very attractive and green under the oak trees. My question is is it safe for horses to eat? They do nibble on it but I don’t know about long term effects?
September 16, 2019
Hi Vicki, Thanks for writing. If you're seeing skeletonized leaves, then you probably already have more than enough air potato leaf beetles! They multiply rather quickly and if they are already present there is no need to order more beetles. As a reminder, the beetles will never eradicate the vine. The beetle's will slow the vine's population growth and make it less vigorous. This makes it easier for us to control when you add in other control methods. We recommend hand-collecting any air potato tubers that fall to the ground, and disposing of them in your normal garbage container - not the vegetation bin! If you need further control, you can consider using herbicide or hiring a landscaping crew to do the work. The information you'll need for that is found here: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/dioscorea-bulbifera/#chemical Additionally, keep in mind that the beetle's are part of a natural cycle now. There will be years where the vines outcompete the beetles and vice versa. You can tip the scale to our favor by adding in the hand-removal of tubers or by applying herbicide. Picking up the "potatoes" in winter is a great landscaping activity to get kids involved, if you know any to enlist. It's generally safe and helps them learn about invasive species. :) Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, or contact your local extension office here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/
September 15, 2019
I really like the bristle basketgrass in the shady, wet area in my side yard, as well! I'm in Kissimmee and we have it growing near our recycling and trash bins, on the west side of our home, which is full shade. It's green, soft to walk in, covers nicely, and looks nice in my opinion. I never need to mow it. Thumbs up!
September 12, 2019
I wish you wouldn't promote the use of glyphosates. Why not promote something like flame weeding?
September 11, 2019
We live in the north Deltona area and have a wooded area behind our house that has been invaded by the potato vine. We did not order beetles but are seeing some skeletonized leaves. It is slow going should I order more Beetles or wait and see how they progress? Also is there anything that eats/controls the vine that looks like a small leaf grape vine?
September 6, 2019
Is fall still a good time to plant cut flowers in zone 9b? Should I wait for spring?
September 6, 2019
Hello Dana, Sorry for the delayed response! Please reach out to our 4-H Youth Development Agent, Shree at 863-519-1073 or via email at email@example.com and she'll be able to help!
September 4, 2019
Hi Martin, Thank you for reading and sharing the article. Yes, a healthy palm should have a full rounded canopy. If pruning is necessary, it is recommended to prune only completely brown fronds and not to prune fronds above the 9 to 3 o'clock horizontal line. Please feel free to share the following articles on pruning palms: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pruning/pruning-palms.html and https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep443.
September 4, 2019
Some people in my neighborhood and the property managers like the 3 to 9 o'clock trim. They say it is a cleaner look. They would rather have fans than a real palm tree with a 360 degree crown. Such ignorance. I have sent this blog to the property manager but they have failed to disseminate it to the community.
August 30, 2019
Basketgrass has invaded shady areas of my St. Augustine lawn. Researching a "cure", one site said "Crabgrass Control", a non-toxic product containing wheat and corn flours, cinnamon and baking soda will kill Basketgrass without harming St. Augustine. Another site recommends plain baking soda, but, according to other sites, baking soda alone doesn't work as well as "Crabgrass Control". Glad to learn there's a product that may kill crabgrass AND Basketgrass without harming St. Augustine. So, hoping it works! Will give it try when it cools off a bit. A Florida Master Gardener
August 29, 2019
Woods grass. as stated. is not a grass, and is vulnerable only to non-selective herbicides like glyphosate. Control has to start in early summer, when last season's seeds sprout, by hand pulling the first sprouts. I cut one time off a cultivator, so there are only two, close together. I use that to loosen the root - other wise it wants to break off at ground level and leave the root. It spreads extremely fast, so get out and scour the yard the first time you see a sprout, and keep at it. For areas that are already out of control, you probably need to spray the entire area, realizing you will kill everything, and end up with a bare spot you will need to seed or plug. One happy note is that it does not like strong sun. It may help to trim branches that shade the yard where woods grass is a problem. That also helps bahia compete.
August 27, 2019
Thanks for the tips of plants that are in pots / containers. I happen to be a lover of flower plants. Always keep sharing tips for us
August 23, 2019
Hi Rusty, When picked up, the air potato beetles should be released at once, together. In other words, we recommend finding a healthy clump of air potato vine and releasing the entire container of beetles (usually 10-15 individuals) at that one clump of vine. We've had good results with the beetles released here in Polk County, even with all the rain we've had. I encourage you to reach out to the Air Potato Leaf Beetle lab, at the contact information found here: http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatofiles/airpotatocontact_us.shtml to inquire about getting additional beetles or to ask more specific questions about how the beetles are fairing in your area of Florida.
August 23, 2019
Rusty@abettercopy.com Yale Rutstein.\, Melbourne Village I received a few Beetles from a neighbor a couple years ago and had good results. Earlier this year I requested a new supply and went to cocoa, FL to pick up. These were given to me and I placed in a few areas of my property. Time has now passed and we do not see any results. While in County office I got two Containers. The 2nd went to a friend. I just spoke with him and he is very happy . Is my problem with the way I spread them in a few locations or just due to the rain we have gotten in Melbourne?? Can I get a new supply?? with instructions on how to place for best results?
August 20, 2019
Hi Sarah, It is great to hear you have asked for proper pruning on the palm trees in your landscape. Certainly properly maintained palms add to the beauty of Florida.
August 19, 2019
I totally agree with this article. We live in Cape Coral, and many of the beautiful palms in the area have been given a "hurricane cut." I think it's very unsightly and certainly not needed. We have both Royal and coconut palms in our yard. Yes, we had the coconuts removed because of possible damage to nearby shrubs, but we also stressed to the trimmer to take the coconuts only. The dry palm fronds fall off by themselves. Aren't palm trees part of the beauty of Florida?
August 16, 2019
Pat, If it is a pH test that we are doing in the office, it should take 3-5 business days. Thanks!
August 16, 2019
Hi there, See this post on earning CEUs online. https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/polkco/2018/08/02/earning-pesticide-ceus-online/ I believe they are using a slightly different process since the original post but the main ideas are the same. Hope this helps and thanks for contacting Extension! MB
August 16, 2019
Hi Mary Beth. Could you direct me to on-line courses for CEUs for my public health pesticide lic. I work for Mosquito Control and would be interested in doing this.
August 14, 2019
I'm with you Pat, I don't mind the stuff at all. My yard is about 80% of the stuff and it is free to take over the rest. Has to be considered extremely friendly to the environment. Requires zero care. No watering, no fertilizing, no pest control. After mowing the neighbors will comment on how nice my yard looks, if they only knew.
August 9, 2019
Hello Anne May I ask, how long will it take to wait for the pH test to finish. Thank you
July 30, 2019
Hi Laurie, I cannot advise you on what your risk is, this article is meant to be a quick reference guide. For medical concerns like this, you should see your doctor or contact the CDC. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s frequently asked questions page, "People should seek medical care immediately whenever they develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, particularly if they have been in warm freshwater recently."
July 30, 2019
I was swimming about 8 days ago in a non-heated chlorinated pool and got water up my nose. I am not having any symptoms, but still paranoid. What are the chances of contracting from a swimming pool?
July 29, 2019
That's wonderful! Thanks for sharing your successes in ordering and picking up beetles. If you're ever interested in learning how to do a formal observation of your vines and the beetles' progress, check out the new Citizen Science project: Air Potato Patrol (https://airpotatobeetle.com/)
July 26, 2019
Picked up and released my red beetles today in Oviedo and they went right to work. Hopefully they will lay a lot of legs and spread quickly to make a big dent on all of the potato vines close to my house. I will be checking on their progress and the weeks pass.
July 26, 2019
Camellia, hibiscus, gardenia, allamanda, holly, loropetalum, bird of paradise are all evergreen shrubs Perennials (deciduous) coleus, daylilies, Gerbera daisy, pentas, shrimp plant, Mexican sage and other salvia varieties, begonia, vinca, zinnia, herbs such as dill, basil and mint.
July 26, 2019
No need to install a raised bed, most of these plants will do well in our soils. Remember to always select a plant for the site conditions in your yard following the Right Plant, Right Place principle: https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/materials/FYN_Handbook_2015_web.pdf#page=5
July 26, 2019
You can bring a soil sample to our Plant Clinic and we will conduct a pH test here for $3. Instructions on sampling can be found here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SS/SS49400.pdf
July 26, 2019
Loved the article, but need to know which plants are evergeen and which are deciduous
July 22, 2019
Good morning Ms. Carroll, All owls in Florida are protected from harm, harassment, or take, by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. In Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's own words, "All Florida raptors are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and under Florida law. This means the birds themselves, their nests, and their eggs are protected by federal and state law." Barred owls are very territorial and will fiercely defend their territory, year-round, but they can be more aggressive during nesting season. Nestlings are thought to be independent by round 6 weeks of age. Home range of an individual or pair of owls is thought to vary with available resources, so I can't give you a defined area or size of a home range. However, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends spacing nest boxes at least a half mile apart for greatest success of attracting a nesting pair of barred owls and some research suggests that in Michigan, territories are approximately one square mile in size. I can't speak to any ongoing research in the Gainesville area, as I'm down in Polk County, but you could reach out to your local Extension Office to see if they know of anything: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/alachua Thank you for your interest in Florida's magnificent owl species!
July 22, 2019
Hi Kenny, We aren't connected with the beetle rearing lab, so unfortunately, I can't help much. This blog post is only meant to share information on how to request beetles. For more information on a beetle request, you might need to reach out to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services directly. Here is their website: https://www.fdacs.gov/Divisions-Offices/Plant-Industry/Bureaus-and-Services/Methods-Development-Biological-Control/Biological-Control/Air-Potato-Vine-Biological-Control
July 18, 2019
where to get soil ph checked
July 18, 2019
Hi Garth, I am not a medical doctor and as such, I cannot advise you on what your risk is. I can say that research suggests that risk of infection is much higher when water is consistently above 80F. The risk of anything can never be zero, so, if you are concerned I strongly suggest getting the opinion of a medical professional. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Infection with Naegleria fowleri is rare. The early symptoms of Naegleria fowleri infection are similar to those caused by other more common illnesses, such as bacterial meningitis . People should seek medical care immediately whenever they develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, particularly if they have been in warm freshwater recently."
July 17, 2019
I was recently in the Pisgah forest of NC and went down this natural water slide (sliding rock) and got water up my nose. The water was cold, 55 degrees. I had water up my nose and blew it out, but it took me a day to get it completely out. It's now 3 days ago and I'm experiencing some nausea. Could this be something to be concerned about or am I just panicking? I wasn't sure if the cold water would mean that the water would be free of amoebas. Plus I'm in my mid 40's so I'm not sure if that makes a difference. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you
July 17, 2019
I applied online about 3 weeks go for the beetle assistance program. I have not heard back from anyone or received any emails concerning my request. I can pick them up in Orlando but need to hear from someone so I can proceed. Thanks Kenny
July 15, 2019
Hi Jacquie, Thank you for your interest of properly pruned palms. For coconut palms the flowers or the fruit can be pruned at any time and certainly if the fruit are in a public place and may pose a risk for dropping where people frequent, they should be removed. For more information about coconut palms, check out: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg043. For more information on pruning palms, including coconut palms, check out: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep443.
July 14, 2019
There should be one * for this article. The “Tall” coconut trees that are heavily laden with nuts should be lighted up prior to storm season. I routinely “harvest” when the first storm starts to spin each season. My tallest is close to 30’+. Removing the nuts help prevent the storms to topple the mature trees. I do completely agree about not taking leaves off higher then 3-9 o’clock. - it is equally disturbing to what HOA prune palmettos to the last 4 to 5 fronds.
July 5, 2019
Hi Al, Unfortunately, it can be hard to explain why wildlife do the things they do. Wildlife regularly move and explore different areas depending on the habitat need they are trying to fulfill. It could be seasonality and migration when the temperatures warmed up, it could be threatening predator (wildlife or human), or it could just be that they decided to check out a different part of town for awhile. Your local Extension office, in Sarasota County, might have an answer specific to your area. You can find their contact information here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/sarasota/
July 2, 2019
We wonder why some 30 ducks for the summer have left the nearby pond here in Sarasota. Surely they're not migrating (?). --- Albert Weeks
July 1, 2019
If the owl was alive and not moving … I would assume it was scared of your dogs and hoped that by staying still it would avoid appearing as prey, to them. This is a fairly common response to avoid attack by a predator, real or perceived. If anything like this happens again, I would simply recommend moving your pets indoors for a few hours to allow the wildlife a chance to recover itself and escape calmly. To be extra cautious in future, take a quick look in the yard for wildlife before letting your dogs out. If there is wildlife out there, especially young wildlife or prey species, consider making some noise to scare them away prior to releasing your dogs into the yard to play. This gives the wildlife a chance to escape before your dogs enter the space.
June 28, 2019
Hi Greg, I am not a medical professional, so before I answer I would like to strongly encourage you to see a doctor if you are at all concerned that you have been infected with Naegleria fowleri. As stated in the blog post, the only known survivors of this condition sought professional treatment as soon as symptoms were noticed. According to the CDC, "Recreational water-associated infections occur most often in July, August, and September, when temperatures are high for prolonged periods of time, causing water temperatures to rise and water levels to decrease." It has been pretty warm, even for Central Florida, this June so I do understand your concern. However, science tells us that infection is exceedingly rare under normal circumstances and you only described having a teeny amount of water in your nose. Known infections indicate that digging in the underwater sediments and participating in recreational activities that can cause a generous amount of water to enter the nose, like water skiing and tubing, can put individuals at a higher risk. As a person who often fishes, boats, and participates in paddlesports in Central Florida, I understand your concern and paranoia! All I can recommend is learn the symptoms and react quickly if they develop. And, in future, try not to "suck up" bits of water that fly near your nose. :)
June 28, 2019
Good morning Annette, This is a great question but I can only provide a partial answer without photos. Florida does not have any native duck species that are all white in color, excepting for unusual plumage patterns caused by albinism or leucism. Generally speaking, white ducks in Florida are a result of hybridization with feral or domestic ducks like "pekin" ducks or muscovy ducks. Other common hybrids in Florida are between feral mallard ducks and Florida mottled ducks, but they are not white in color. To complicate matters, some duck species will sneakily lay their eggs in another mother duck's nest, to trick her into raising the ducklings. It is possible that this is one family of ducks, but it is also possible that this is a mixed family due to "Brood Parasitism." This nesting strategy is fascinating and can even result in birds raising young that aren't even of their species! See this interesting article from National Geographic, about a wood duckling and an eastern screech owl mama, here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/04/screech-owl-ducklings-nest-florida/ This is likely much more rare than one duck relying on another duck to host it's young, but it is interesting nonetheless. With photos, I may be able to provide additional information on your lakefront family of ducks. Please feel free to email me, using the contact information here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/ OR, contact Florida Fish and Wildlife, here: https://flfwc.mycusthelp.com/webapp/_rs/(S(jnyjtakzbmnajzzfdbs5qu1d))/RequestOpenCI.aspx?sSessionID=&rqst=3
June 27, 2019
I have a family of Barred owls in my yard. 2 Baby barred owls with the parents tending to them. Are they protected in my area? How far will the babies have to go to claim their own territory? I live just outside Gainesville Florida city limits by approx.1 1/2 miles. Does UFL do studies in my area or band them? My zip code is 32618 enjoyed your information & am happy for any information.
June 25, 2019
Yesterday i was fishing a warm, slow moving, shallow river in central florida, and while i was reeling my line in tiny droplets of water flew off the line and went into my right nostril and i instinctively sucked them in, now mind you they were so small i only felt them for an instant, but now i'm super paranoid! Am i likley to develope pam or is infection rare even if a little but of water makes it into the nose?
June 23, 2019
So today my mom found a living owl just in moving yet alive on the ground. We have two large dogs, who have a history of chasing birds, but didn't chafe it, but the male peed on the owl. My question is why would an owl be so unmoving?
June 20, 2019
Just moved here from NE and my soil is sandy. Would a raised bed with added soil make sense?
June 16, 2019
We had a family of ducks this spring living on the shore of our lake. There were 4 brown and 2 white. Are they all from the same family? I can’t find any information about white ducks in florida. From everything I read, I believe they were Mottled Ducks. Thank you!
June 14, 2019
Hi John, Thanks for the comment. If it is not one of the birds shown here in the blog post, I recommend that you try the online-bird ID tool, Merlin Bird ID. This Bird ID tool was created by Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology and is highly regarded as one of the best bird ID tools for the general citizen or for travellers in unfamiliar ecosystems. You can find it here: https://merlinweb.allaboutbirds.org/home If you are able to get a photo of the bird in question I'm happy to take a look and identify it, if possible.
June 14, 2019
Good Day, Looking for name of med. large raptor in Seminole co.Fl. Bird is 70% black,smooth feathers, 30% white on breast, no crest on head. have seen many times near Econ. river on Snowhill Rd. ( little Big Econ River State Park ) Also have watched bird hunting in pastures near river low lands. Thank You, John Watts
June 12, 2019
Hi Linda, This event is not being offered at this time. The blog post was posted last year, and the details in it are accurate. I do not remove blog posts from old events as it is still informative of the type of programming we offer in Extension. I encourage you to follow our events page on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/pg/PolkExtension/events/ or follow my Natural Resources event registration page at www.polknr.eventbrite.com to stay up to date on programmatic events. You can also check out calendar listings at: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/events/?location=polk Thank you for your interest. We will update first on eventbrite, and then on facebook, when more events like this are available.
June 12, 2019
Some things still being offered are last year. I was about to sign up for the beeswax paper and saw it was Sept 18th a Tuesday, and that doesn't help this years agenda.
June 11, 2019
Carole, I apologize for the delayed response. I would check local nurseries and use this list: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/types-of-gardens/hummingbird-gardens.html If you cannot find these plants locally, perhaps the nursery can order them for you. Good luck!
June 11, 2019
Thank you, Kerri!
June 11, 2019
Penny, Here is some information for you on Blood Lilies: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/orange/home-lawns-landscapes-and-gardens/residential-horticulture/plant-profiles/#Blood%20Lily You can definitely divide them when the foliage dies back in the fall. If you have any other questions please contact our Plant Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-519-1041. Thank you!
June 4, 2019
Hi there, We have been working on updating and streamlining presentations and we have submitted a raising backyard chickens EDIS publication manuscript. It will be available via the EDIS publication system, once it has passed review. Keep an eye out for it here. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/. You can check for future programs via the UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Statewide Extension Program website here: https://smallfarm.ifas.ufl.edu/ Upcoming programs can be found on the calendar page and information on raising chickens can be found on the production pages. We needed to make updating our first priority and while the EDIS publication is complete, our next task will be to update the presentations. This will help us for future programs. At this time I am not aware of upcoming dates and would expect it to be fall before our presentation updates are finished. Thank you for your interest! Mary Beth Henry
June 4, 2019
Fixed! Thank you. :)
June 4, 2019
The link for registration takes me to a page from 2018.
June 3, 2019
That is so exciting! Congratulations on having such wildlife-friendly neighborhood habitat. I am always looking for good, clear photos of our native wildlife to use in presentations and publications (educational, non-commercial). If you ever have photos to share that you'd be willing to give permission for use for, you can always email me. My contact information is listed here: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/ In case you're interested in watching a past webinar we offered on owls, you can view that here: https://youtu.be/XhTFTNucDcw And our current webinar season is about to get started and our first webinar is about common birds of prey: Thank you for writing back and I hope you have a great day!
June 2, 2019
Hi Shannon, We definitely had a pair of owl chicks. I saw two with one of them being much bigger and stronger than the other. Also saw dad fly in with food. I was going to send you a picture but don't see how on the blog.
May 31, 2019
Hi - I had been lusting after blood lilies for several years (and actually read this post last year.) I was given a pass-along last summer and it died back. It came back this spring with two beautiful blooms. Now I have lots of vegetation (and new sprouts), but no blooms. Is this normal? Also, do all the new sprouts represent new bulbs? I'm thinking I should divide once, they die back - would you agree? Thank you! I love these and am so grateful to have received a pass-along.
May 31, 2019
Hi Kim! Thanks for asking. Polk County government and several municipalities--including Lakeland, Bartow, Winter Haven, and Haines City--have great options for summer day camping for kids and job opportunities for teens. Polk County 4-H focuses on offering specialty experiences, such as this year's 4-H Grilling and Tailgaiting camp June 5-8, open to 4-H members. 4-H overnight camping also offers great volunteer opportunities for teens that you can consider for summer 2020, as those positions are now filled. In the meantime, a great way to get your teen involved in 4-H and in volunteer opportunities is through the 4-H Youth Council. 4-H Agent Shree Ghosh is the advisor and she can be reached at Shreemoyee.email@example.com, or 863-519-1043. They meet once a month. We hope you'll get involved!
May 31, 2019
Hi Rusty, Great question, and the short answer is no. Go ahead and release any beetles you are sent from the Air Potato Lab. The beetles currently exist in the wild, so it's not something the lab will continue to supply forever. If you think about supply and demand, the beetle populations won't grow until the vine populations are also growing ... after all, the beetles need the vine for a food source. Air potato leaf beetles are a biological control agent which is meant to be one part of an overall pest management program. In english, that means that the beetles will not be able to eradicate the vine and they are not meant to. Their job is to make the vines less abundant so that we can use other methods for effective control. So, in addition to releasing beetles, we encourage you to remove any air potato bulbils that form (the potato part) or any you find on the ground. If you are continuing to see abundant amounts of vines, you may want to consider chemical control to help reduce the root systems. You can find information on that here: https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/dioscorea-bulbifera/#chemical I hope this is helpful and I'm glad your beetles were so effective last year!
May 31, 2019
Two years ago we had infestation of these Vines. A neighbor brought the beetles to us and they did their job. This year the vines are returning. We have requested more beetles through UF program. Are we causing any other problems by using them again? Rusty Thank you, rusty
May 25, 2019
Enjoyed your story!
May 24, 2019
To me, basketgrass is an attractive, native ground-cover which will grow where other things (grass) will not. I'm trying to establish it in my shady back yard.
May 24, 2019
I'm interested in Polk County (preferably Lakeland) summer volunteer opportunities or camps for my 15 year-old but am having trouble finding those on this site. They seem to have a lot in the Leon County area but that is too far away.
May 13, 2019
Great question Cheryl! Palms with yellow leaves may be displaying symptoms of a nutrient deficiency. It is not recommended to prune these fronds. Even though they are yellow and may be considered unsightly, if it is a nutrient deficiency, they are still helping to support the overall health of the palm through mobile nutrients. Pruning the yellow fronds does not solve the problem. You should wait until the fronds are completely brown and dead before pruning them. If you would like to try to key out the problem here is a link https://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/palmprod/palm-problems-key/palm-problems-key-leaves/. For more information on nutrient deficiencies in palms I recommend this short article from UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/fertilizer/palm-nutrition.html as well as http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep273. Finally, to ensure you are fertilizing your palm appropriately, make sure you use a formula with 8-2-12-4Mg and that 100% of the N, K, Mg, and B sources are in slow-release or controlled-release form and that all of the Mn, Fe, Zn, and Cu sources are water soluble as in the article by Timothy Broschat, titled Not All Landscape Palm Fertilizers Are Created Equal (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP51600.pdf.) You are welcome to contact our Master Gardener plant clinic to discuss the specifics of your palm at 863-519-1041.
May 10, 2019
What do I do for palms that show the yellowing in the leaves?
May 10, 2019
Hi Denny, It does sound like mother nature is teaching these parents a cruel lesson about protecting their young, but if they are new to fledging, it is still possible that they have climbed back to their nest. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,Generally speaking, Eastern Screech Owls have several roosts in an area that they can use and the loss of one should not doom them, unless the young are still too young to leave the nest. Additionally, they take well to artificial nesting options like nest boxes, if you would like to provide one. You can find plans for a screech owl box, here: https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/eastern-screech-owl/ As for the tree itself, unfortunately laurel oaks are susceptible to rot and generally have a short lifespan when compared to other species of oak. If the tree is in an area where it wouldn't cause damage if it fell, you might consider asking the city if they can consider removing some heavy limbs for safety (when the time comes) but allowing some of the tree to stand as a snag for wildlife. They could put a sign up educating the public about the wildlife value of old standing trees and warn residents not to tie hammocks to the tree or picnic around its base. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm sure there would be other considerations that city would need to take into account. It may not be possible to do such a thing, depending on the location of this particular tree. Generally, people don't like the look of dead trees but many like wildlife and may tolerate the snag for its valuable wildlife habitat. You can read more about snags here: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/gardening-with-wildlife/creating-wildlife-habitats-with-dead-wood.html Best wishes for the little owlets! Please, let me know what happens to the tree. :)
May 10, 2019
I am interested in signing my daughter up but I'm not sure how to do that. Her interests are art and wildlife.
May 10, 2019
Hi Denise, This is a complicated question to answer in a blog post, so I will do my best. I cannot identify any plant or wildlife via description alone as it would be irresponsible. If you get a clear photo, I'm happy to take a look. You can email it to me at the contact information here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/ For the rules and restrictions, it's complicated. As a wild animal, you should not be feeding it or approaching it. While feeding ducks is not illegal in Florida, it is generally bad for their health and nutrition. For that reason, I strongly recommend against it. If you have questions about this, consider reading this publication: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/uw/uw19300.pdf or shooting me an email with some questions. If a duck chooses to nest or live next to, under, or near your porch, but you are not actively containing the duck with a fence or cage, it is still a wild animal and can continue what it's doing with your blessing. Generally speaking, this would not be considered "keeping a duck" on your property. If you have prevented the duck from leaving your property, thereby placing it into captivity, yes - there are many restrictions, permits, and laws to consider. I encourage you to reach out to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for more information: https://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-staff/regional-offices/ I hope you have found this helpful and I hope to receive an email photo of your little neighbor soon!
May 10, 2019
I have a question about how screech owls fledge. Four days ago we have one fledgling, the next day we had three, then two yesterday, and one today. The male has lived in this Eureka Palm cluster for many months and was joined by mama and fledglings this week. Is it possible that the babies are back in the nesting place or has nature taken it’s course, not in a good way. Also, the City came to cut down their nesting tree (old Laurel Oak) three days ago and I talked them out of it for the moment. I told them I’d be okay with watching it die over time but they are worried about liability.
May 9, 2019
A duck showed up on our front porch one day and continues to live in our back yard. Are there any restrictions for keeping a duck on your property? Also hoping you might be able to tell me what type of duck she is. She has a light brown/ tan head , black beak. Brown and white body feathers and orange feet.
May 6, 2019
Good morning Alonso, I typically recommend screech owl nest boxes for residential areas. Eastern screech owls are cute neighbors, don't tend to have messy or stinky nests, and are generally easy to attract to a nest box. If you live in a more agricultural, you might have success with a barn owl box. These owls can be smelly neighbors due to their nesting habits (not always!), but they are great rodent hunters and therefore, are great neighbors. If you frequently hear the call, "who cooks, who cooks for you" (listen here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barred_Owl/sounds) then you might want to try a barred owl nest box. Best of luck and thank you for your interest in Florida Owls and providing habitat.
May 5, 2019
I live in hialeah florida and want to attract owls to my yard. What is the most likley to be found in the area so that i can put up a nesting box most likely to attract them? Thanks
May 3, 2019
Hi John, It sounds like you may have a nesting mama screechie! How exciting. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "When nesting, the female stays in the nest hole except for brief dawn and dusk excursions. She and the nestlings are fed by her mate, though it is the female who tears the prey into small bits for the babies." You can read more, here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Screech-Owl/lifehistory# While species behavior can be locally different over a species' range, this description aligns with what I've observed in Florida so far. We had a screech owl family in our yard every year when I was growing up. Shortly after this behavior ended, we would start to see the owlets fledging in the yard. The incubation period is 27-34 days for Eastern Screech owls, so enjoy her presence while she's there. :) Best wishes to your little owl family, I hope they have a successful brood!
May 1, 2019
Hi Shannon. We have a screech owl house in a bald cypress in our yard. I often see the owl leaving at dusk; however, the last two weeks the owl sleeps in the entrance must of the day. When we walk by he/she watches us then appears to go back to sleep. Does this indicate there are chicks in the nest. It is may 1 in stuart florida, seems like the right time if year
April 26, 2019
Good morning Amanda, The ducks you are describing sound like Muscovy Ducks, an exotic species introduced to Florida illegally many years ago. You can learn more about this species here: https://myfwc.com/media/16297/muscovy-duck-flyer.pdf or, here: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/birds/waterfowl/muscovy-duck/ If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
April 25, 2019
Which ducks have the red bumpy areas on the front of their heads? I'm in St Pete. We used to have regular mallards here, but now the males that have come in with the females don't have green heads, but instead are twice as large with the red bumps. Thank you for any info!
April 23, 2019
Good morning Mark, Sounds like you've had a scary day! Whatever comfort it may be, infections using city-treated water are considered very rare. The CDC recommends, "To make your water safe for sinus rinsing and ritual nasal rinsing, it is safest to use boiled [for one minute and left to cool], sterile [purchased water marked sterile or distilled], or filtered water [with the filter labelled “NSF 53” or “NSF 58”]." You can find specific instructions here: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/sinus-rinsing.html However rare, infections from sinus rinsing are technically possible. If your symptoms match those mentioned in the blog post, or if you are at all concerned, my only advice is to seek medical attention. I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. If you are concerned, seek medical help. In the future, please only use properly sterilized water for nasal rinsing.
April 22, 2019
I used my Tap water for a nasal sinus irrigation about thirteen days ago in Orlando FL Orange County, I started getting a headache and are freaked out that I may have gotten this amoeba since I researched it, probably over reacting but I am still terrified. Any thoughts.
April 22, 2019
Hi Julie, I'm sorry to hear about your midge troubles. Freshwater aquatic midges live almost their entire lives in the water, and then when they become adults, the emerge as a flying adult. The midges lay their eggs in the water, from which larvae hatch out of the eggs and live in the lake sediments. After that stage they pupate and become a swimming pupa, from which stage they finally mature an become a flying adult. The purpose of this final stage is to mate, so they are a species that tends to emerge as a mass group. Unfortunately, it sounds like the cycle has become constant in your area. You can learn more about the life cycle here: https://www.pinellascounty.org/PublicWorks/mosquito/pdf/Blind-Mosquitoes.pdf There are several "Lake June" in Central Florida, so I am not sure exactly which one you are at but if it is a natural Florida waterbody, as opposed to a stormwater pond, the best course of action you have is to reduce the attraction of your house to the adults and work with your community to improve overall water quality. If by spraying your lawn, you mean with insecticide, no - that is unlikely to help. In fact, it could make matters worse by killing off predator insects which feed on the midges. If Lake June is a stormwater pond or a private manmade lake, you may be able to apply chemical treatment to the water to break the life cycle's momentum and then treat for algae and other issues. But, these treatments are very expensive and are not legal in natural, public water bodies because they generally harm all invertebrate life in the water, not just midges.
April 8, 2019
The next similar program that I know of will be held by the Tampa Bay Beekeepers Association in the fall. See their website at https://tampabaybeekeepers.com/ :)
April 8, 2019
When will the next seminar be held?
April 6, 2019
What exactly is the life cycle of the midges? Do they crawl out of the water or hatch & fly? Where do they reproduce? I am on Lake June & I constantly have midges - 12 months a year. Does spraying the lawn help?
March 20, 2019
Excellent! Just got back from my first visit to Circle B Ranch where we saw at least six of the eight birds described here. My daughter, a sophomore at FL Southern College, insisted that cormorants and anhingas were different birds while I always thought they were the same. She was correct. The only bird we did not see was the red-headed woodpecker. We saw vultures, but unsure of which ones (or both); now I will be able to tell. Thanks.
February 26, 2019
Good morning Jeannie, Any of the four common species might be found in Vero Beach, but I wouldn't expect to find burrowing owls in Vero. It's certainly possible, but unlikely given their habitat preferences. You could put an owl box up for either the screech owl, barn owl, or barred owl, depending on which species you are most interested in attracting and where you might mount it. I usually recommend screech owl boxes because they are enjoyable to watch, sometimes stick their head out of the opening during the day, and have the smallest territories of the three owls likely to use a nest box. Smaller territories mean that you can have more owls in a smaller area, and therefore are more likely to have an owl take up residence in your owlbox. You can find learn more about the owl species and how to identify them by their calls by watching the webinar we recorded, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhTFTNucDcw&feature=youtu.be&list=PLMHbwAhD6pLea-Z1kyYDta1ifvKUy1aJi See the links below for nestbox plans: http://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/barred-owl/ http://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/barn-owl/ http://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/eastern-screech-owl/
February 26, 2019
What kind of owls are in Vero Beach, Florida ? What kind of owl boxes would I need to put up in my trees ?
February 25, 2019
Thank you, I've made the correction. :)
February 24, 2019
You misspelled Juncus effusus
February 19, 2019
Thanks for your question, Kevin! I would put a bat house and improving local bat habitat in the "couldn't hurt" category. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that even a large colony of bats would be able to control a booming midge population. Bats are likely eating midges they encounter when they are out looking for flying insects, but midges aren't strong fliers. They tend to stay close to structures (buildings or vegetation) which give them a place to rest or protect them from strong wind. You're much more likely to see noticeable improvement by reducing artificial light near your home. Removing porch lights and such will not reduce the population, but it will reduce the attractiveness of your home to the midges that are out and about.
February 19, 2019
Would bats or installation of bat boxes help with Aquatic Midge control?
February 12, 2019
Is there a particular store that is best to find plants etc to attract and care for hummingbirds?
February 4, 2019
You can find more information at the following University of Florida Web sites: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW05700.pdf There is a lot of information on individual butterfly species at the following web site: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_butterflies Also some information on butterfly plants at: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_butterfly_plants Another useful site is: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/types-of-gardens/butterfly-gardens.html
February 4, 2019
Rhonda, Check out our plant database: http://floridayards.org/fyplants/index.php You can search for specific types of plants, site conditions and even for butterfly plants. If you need any other information, call our Plant Clinic at 863-519-1041.
February 4, 2019
Thank you so much!
February 4, 2019
Hello Ines, you can find Polk County's watering restrictions here: https://www.polk-county.net/utilities/watering-schedule-and-restrictions If you do not have Polk County water utilities, check with your water utility and see if they have a website that you can bookmark that updates if there are any changes. Welcome to Polk County!
January 31, 2019
I am new to the county. Are there specific days that we can water our lawns?
January 25, 2019
Hi Marvin, Great question! Burrowing owls do nest underground, with clutches of 2-8 eggs in Florida. They tend to breed in the same area of other burrowing owls, in a colony of sorts, but not always. The female burrowing owl will usually stay very close to the burrow or inside the burrow until the chicks fledge, or in other words when can leave the nest, which can take up to two weeks. The males are territorial and will stay near the burrows to defend his "space." The parents will care for the chicks until they are self-sufficient, usually around 12 weeks old. I hope that answers all your questions, but if not, check out these resources: - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Burrowing_Owl/overview - https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/owls/burrowing-owl/
January 25, 2019
Do Florida burrowing owls lay their eggs inside Underground? An owl that has eggs would be alone or with its mate?
January 22, 2019
Joe, Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm glad the post was helpful to you. :)
January 20, 2019
Thanks so much. Very informative. I always thought what I was seeing were anhingas, but everyone I chatted with told me they were cormorants. Now I will focus more on the beak to make sure. Thanks again!
January 7, 2019
My park in Haines City would love to have a butterfly garden area for the monarchs.....will be reserching ...any sugestions would be appreciated.
January 5, 2019
Thoroughly enjoyed your writings and photos.Keep up the good work!
January 2, 2019
Hi Alan, Great question. Unfortunately, I can't give any kind of statistic as to how rare or how frequent Naegleria fowleri is in any given tap water other than to say that is considered very rare. Generally speaking, tap water is considered safe due to its municipal water treatment process, if you are on municipal supply (as opposed to a home well-water system, for instance). As a Diamond Village resident, you are on a municipal supply provided to UF's Campus by Gainesville Regional Utilities (see here for more information: https://soils.ifas.ufl.edu/campuswaterquality/water/water-supply.shtml). All that said, the CDC strongly recommends the following for water used in nasal rinsing: - Boil (Preferred): Use water that has been previously boiled for 1 minute and left to cool. - Buy (Preferred): Use water with a label specifying that it contains distilled or sterile water. - Filter (If Buying or Boiling is not possible): Use a filter designed to remove common germs.The label should read “NSF 53” or “NSF 58” or contain the words “cyst removal” or “cyst reduction”. If these words are present it means the filter can remove Naegleria. Filter labels that read “absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller” are also effective at removing Naegleria. For more information on the CDC's recommendations on nasal rinsing as it relates to Brain Eating Amoeba, see here: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/sinus-rinsing.html I hope this information is helpful, Alan. Have a lovely day!
December 28, 2018
Thanks for the post! very useful information. I live in the diamond village in ufl, and today I used a neti pod filled with tap water (mixed with cold tap water and hot tap water) to irrigate my nasal. and I immediately realized that it might be a bad idea. After googled it for a few minutes, I am totally freaked out right. I was wondering how rare is it in the tap water? I learned that it likes hot water.
December 17, 2018
Hi Mary Beth will there be another class in 2019? Just checking would have loved to have known about this.....!
December 4, 2018
Pamela, Yes the seed stalks are thin and can stick to fur, pants etc. I don't think they are poisonous as I have not found anything to indicate that. The seeds are very small and perhaps you could wipe off your dog's fur before it comes indoors to eliminate any excess ingestion of the seeds. Let us know if you have any other questions by contacting the Plant Clinic at 863-519-1041.
December 3, 2018
Does this plant produce seeds on thin stalks? The seeds are sticky and attach to clothes and animal fur. If so, is the seed poisonous when the dog licks it off its fur? Kinda worried about this.
November 30, 2018
Hi Jim, For established palm trees in the landscape excessive pruning above the 9-3 horizon can have negative affects on the palm. Most importantly it reduces the palms photosynthesis ability. Repeated overpruning may also result in a narrowing of the trunk. Only completely dead fronds should be removed. If you are hiring landscape professionals to maintain your palms, you may want to ask that they only remove completely dead fronds and certainly not cut above the 9-3 horizon. For more information on pruning palms and the impacts of overpruning check out: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP44300.pdf. The only time excessive leaf removal is appropriate and beneficial is for transplanting palms. For more information on leaf removal when transplanting palm trees check out: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP00100.pdf.
November 30, 2018
landscapers cut palms 1-11, will this hurt the palms?
November 1, 2018
Hi Christine, Great question. Like most birds, owls have specific housing requests that will make an "owl box" more successful at attracting them. There are some generalizations you can make between species, but it's better to try and identify the species of owl before looking at nestboxes to purchase. You can learn more about the common owl species in Florida by watching our "WHOOO is making that sound?" webinar about owls in Florida: https://youtu.be/XhTFTNucDcw you can speed it up if 35 minutes is too long. :) The owls in Florida are fairly easy to identify as there are only 5 common species and they are rather different looking. If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to contact me. My information can be found here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/
November 1, 2018
My son's family just bought a house that has several owls in the trees. I'd like to get them an owl box for Christmas but I don't know exactly what kind of owls they are. Is there a standard type of owl box or do I need to find out more specifically? There are several large trees in their front yard. Thanks!
October 22, 2018
Hi Abe, Any of Florida's five common species can be found in Orlando, even the urban parts, although the burrowing owl is the least likely. The most voracious rodent predator is likely the barn owl, you can read more about them here, http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/environment/barn_owls.shtml, or here, http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/owls/barn-owls/. To attract a barn owl, or any other species, you should consider adding an owl nesting box. In other words, a birdhouse specifically designed for owls and their young. Owl nesting boxes tend to be much larger than your average store-bought birdhouse but are also, pretty simple in design. There are barn owl boxes available commercially, but if you buy one, find one that looks similar to the DIY version for the best chance of attracting an owl. You can find plans for a barn owl box here: https://erec.ifas.ufl.edu/barn_owl_research/pdf/BuildingABarnOwlNestingBox.pdf OR https://nestwatch.org/wp-content/themes/nestwatch/birdhouses/barn-owl.pdf One of the most important parts of adding a nestbox is where you put it! Just like with humans, real estate matters. For the barn owl, you can mount your house on a pole or on a building, but it should be between 8 and 25 feet in the air. Also, keep in mind that owlets (baby owls) are quite noisy and make a mess, you might not want to mount the house immediately next to your home or porch, or that of a neighbor. Learn more about placement here: https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/barn-owl/ Best wishes for your owl adventures, please feel free to reach out if you have questions!
October 19, 2018
Hello Doug, I am so sorry to hear about your troubles with midges! Hopefully, the light trap and your behavior changes are alleviating the issue at least a little bit, but I do understand they can still be a horrible nuisance. First off, please note that these recommendations are intended for stormwater ponds and waterfront owners in Florida. It's entirely possible you have a different species in your neck of the woods, and I'm not at all familiar with Texas's lake ecology. That said, if you were in Florida, this is what my response would be ... Dunkin sticks aren't likely to have any impact on blind mosquitoes as they primarily target true mosquitoes, which are susceptible to the active ingredient at a much lower concentration. They don't reproduce in puddles as true mosquitoes do. But, real mosquitoes are probably problematic for you too, so no need to stop using the dunkin sticks. The dunkin sticks active ingredient, Bti, is only effective on blind mosquitoes at really high concentrations so I wouldn't recommend using it on the lakefront. However, (s)-Methoprene, with permission from your local authorities, is an effective treatment. from our Integrated Pest Management Plan: "An IGR labeled for the control of aquatic midges contains (S)- Methoprene and is sold in pellets. These pellets release the IGR for up to 30 days. (S)-Methoprene can effectively stop the formation of midge pupae in the water (Ali 1991). The (S)-Methoprene label recommends a dosage of five to ten pounds per acre which should be applied twenty feet from the waters edge. Always read and follow label directions. Although the use of (S)-Methoprene can effectively manage aquatic midge pupae, it can be expensive." - http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in825 Please know that the use of Insect Growth Regulators, IGR, like (s)-Methoprene are not legal in public Florida waterbodies. Please check with the local authorities before applying it to your lakefront. As a reminder, I am not fluent in riparian (waterfront) laws of Texas and this is not to be considered legal advice. :) Best of luck with your midge issues, I truly sympathize with you. Our local problems have been a bit better this year. It's a complicated issue, for sure!
October 19, 2018
Hi Rochel, There are hundreds, if not thousands of species of bacteria, amoeba, and other microorganisms that can cause us harm; however, this particular species cannot be caught by eating freshwater fish. The only way to be infected with Naegleria fowleri is by allowing contaminated water to be forced up the nose. Hope this helps, Shannon
October 18, 2018
Anne, thank you for this timely article! I have been pulling my hair out trying to find information on this - I'm taking the UF Volunteer Master Gardener course for the Manatee county extension service. The class is broken into teams to do a project. Our group project is 10 weeds commonly found in lawns... and we are creating brochures to hand out to clients outlining how to deal with said weed- whether it's a summer or winter annual, perennial, biennial... pre-and post emergent advise... you get the idea. We divided the weeds and lucky me, I picked Basketgrass! never having any idea how long and hard I would search, only to find information on the Oplismenus varieties found in Maryland and such, but zilch for the Florida variety except as a desirable. When I mentioned the difficulty I was having I was told by an instructor that the variety we deal with is Bristle Basketgrass, Oplismenus setarius, which made it even harder to find anything! And I keep coming up with inconsistencies regarding which Oplismenus is which. Can I get your permission to utilize the information you've provided for my project? Feel free to email me back and we could talk directly if you like. I can use all the help I can get on this! Thank you in advance! Andrea Lewis
October 11, 2018
I had no idea that reducing stress in animals can improve their weight gain, reproductive performance, and ability to resist disease! There is definitely a lot to take into account when caring for livestock. My friend owns a farm, and is worried about the amount of animals she has compared to her limited knowledge of how to care for them. After reading this, I'll have to recommend that she find a livestock agent in her area that can help her manage and treat the problems that can so negatively affect the animals and the overall agriculture.
October 7, 2018
Shannon, My wife and I live in a home located on a cove off Lake LBJ in the Texas Hill Country. The midge infestation is unbearable and precludes us from sitting on our deck at night to enjoy the summer evenings. With approval from local authorities, I have used Aquathol Super K, a granular aquatic herbicide, manufactured by United Phosphorus, Inc. to control (with moderate success) milfoil and hydrilla. We pull the shades down at night and have established a light trap between the house and the cove, all to little or no avail. When my wife and I lived in Houston, we put "Dunkin Sticks" (available at Lowes and Home Depot) in the in-ground valve boxes of our sprinkler system to help reduce the number of mosquitoes. Will the "Dunkin Sticks" work if put in the water along our 125 feet of shoreline? Any other suggestions? (S)-methoprene? We are at wits' end. Help! Thanks.
October 6, 2018
Please add me to the list for the 2019 class. I just attended the sale and it was wonderful. I came home with a trunk full of butterfly loving plants and a caterpillar. The Master Gardeners were so helpful and friendly. I had a great time. It has made my desire to become a Master Gardener even greater. Thank you for your help in making a dream come true.
October 1, 2018
i was chatting with a gal quite along time ago in a health area of a department store , where they had scales and told she is loosing weight rapidly from eat raw succhi that came from a warm waters in the Caribbean, and it was determined at the time, that she had an amoeba eating away at her insides, and no way of riding her body of this amoeba, and lost 40lbs in a matter of weeks. Of course this conversation took place about 10 years ago. question, is it possible to contract amoebas from eating fresh warm water fish? appreciate your response
October 1, 2018
Carol, The key for identifying greening is "blotchy mottle" on the leaves. You can find good photos of it in this publication: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pp326. Once you are sure that you have greening, there is no treatment and the tree will continue to decline. If you have any other questions, contact our Plant Clinic at (863) 519-1057.
October 1, 2018
Shirley, Creeping Jenny is very different. Check out some info and photos of creeping jenny: https://gcrec.ifas.ufl.edu/GCREC-Garden/docs/pdf/Creeping_Jenny.pdf. Many of these weeds take over in shady areas where grass will not grow anyway. Let me know if you have any questions or give our Plant Clinic a call at (863) 519-1057.
October 1, 2018
Thanks, Kaydie! We have been received a TON of questions about basketgrass lately. I couldn't find anything either, so I consulted with Dr. Marble and wrote this up. I am so glad it was helpful :)
October 1, 2018
Thanks for this article Anne! I'm really surprised to find that EDIS doesn't have a document discussing Basketgrass after a long search this morning only turned up your blog in connection to UF/IFAS!
September 28, 2018
I have something very similar but have been told mine is creeping Jenny. Is this similar & can it be removed the same way? Whatever mine is, it most always in my shady areas & is spreading like a "bad weed" covering about half of my back yard! Help!!
September 28, 2018
What kind of owl do you think it would be possible to attract in urban Orlando? And if there are multiples possible, are there owls that are better at hunting rats/mice?
September 28, 2018
So after reading the above article seems I have this greening going on. Some leaves have what look like tunnels running through and all the leaves of my tangerine tree are pointing up and slightly curled. They don’t lay flat as most leaves do. Should I destroy the tree and start over? Are there varieties on the market year that are greening resistant. I know UF was working on developing a variety such as this. Thanks.
September 27, 2018
Hi John, There is a lot to unpack in this comment; you've done your research! I'd like to start off by saying, this sounds like a question that would be better handled over the phone so that we can chat about some local conditions and then I can follow up with some entomology experts. However, I’ll share some thought I have, below: --- Current UF/IFAS Extension recommendations for managing non-biting freshwater midges do not include aeration systems as an effective means of treatment --- Treatment options and recommendations will vary greatly depending on if this is a natural lake or a large stormwater pond (aka, man-made lake in a development) --- A quick search of research findings on aeration and midge populations yielded a paper from University of South Florida (1986) that showed an increase in midge larva due to aeration (https://www.clean-flo.com/files/The_Influence_of_whole_lake_aeration_on_the_limnology_of_a_hypereutrophic_lake_in_central_Flordia.pdf) --- Any lake management treatment that is costly and ongoing should be quoted from a variety of lake management companies to see if there is consensus on the “best” treatment for that specific waterbody. Then, you can choose the company or plan you most trust to do the job well. Overall, I recommend following the four-step, Integrated Pest Management Plan laid out in the blog post. Experts in the field have researched it extensively and continue update the plan when needed. Please feel free to give me a call or email if you'd like to discuss this further. My contact information can be found here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/
September 27, 2018
We live in a subdivision with a 40 acre lake. The two deepest coves on the lake are about 30' and 40' deep. A company which installs water circulators and fountains performed an "analysis" suggesting that these deep areas are a problem due to low dissolved oxygen and that installing water circulators in these areas would alleviate the midge problem. I have paddled the lake in kayak with a sonar and there is an apparent thermocline in these areas, thus it is easy to presume that these areas would have lower dissolved oxygen due to the lower temperature. Otherwise, the lake should be well oxygenated due to persistent agitation from daily sea breezes. The lake has a healthy population of fishes including bass, bluegill, shell crackers and schools of minnows. The systems that the company installs and maintains are expensive. Are these systems effective in reducing midges?
September 24, 2018
I understand completely. Every time I jump in a lake, pool, or river, I get a flash of panic if water goes up my nose. I'm much better about remembering to hold my nose when I jump now! :) While the symptoms are listed above in the blog post, please refer to your doctor's advice if you're concerned it may be more than a back-to-school cold. I hope your son feels better soon, if he doesn't already, and I am so glad to know you found my post and reply helpful.
September 19, 2018
Thank you for taking the time , I have looked elsehwere for information on this , but have not had much luck. My child was lying down drinking bottled water and it went up his nose , so I, as a mother, of course have this amoeba in the back of my head . Weird thing is today (3 days later ) he is running a fever so , hopefully its a coincidence with being back to school, but I was trying to get some info on it.
September 19, 2018
There is no such thing as a silly question when were are talking about something as dangerous (although also rare) as Naegleria fowleri. As I tell almost everyone who asks me for a "yes" or "no" answer about a dangerous thing in nature or the environment, my response is, "highly unlikely but not impossible." According to the CDC, and mentioned in this blog post, "You cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria. You can only be infected when contaminated water goes up into your nose." That said, if you were to use bottled water or tap water for nasal irrigation (AKA using a "neti pot" or other similar device) I would strongly urge you to follow CDC recommendations and use pre-boiled and cooled water. Technically, most drinking water sources will be filtered or purified in such a way that would likely exclude all brain-eating amoeba, but for safety's sake, please follow CDC recommendations on this. You can find them here: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/prevention.html. If you are referring to simply drinking water, rather than pouring it into your nose, then there is likely a similarly low risk of contracting Naegleria fowleri from drinking tap water as there is from drinking bottled water. There are too many variables to give you a "yes" or "no" answer, unfortunately. The most important thing to be aware of is the processing your water goes through. In most cases, the is very little difference between tap water and bottled water except personal preference, cost, and taste. In fact, in some cases, bottled water may simply be tap water (from one or more cities) but packaged and sold. However you prefer your water, I encourage you to look into the water quality reports and water processing methods for the brand or source you are interested in.
September 19, 2018
Anyway this can live in bottled water ? Maybe a silly question but I really would like to know .
September 17, 2018
Good morning Darcy, What an amazing story! Generally speaking the big things are to prevent pets and children from stressing it (aka, don't approach it) and to never feed it, leave food out, or offer it food. We want to protect this wonderful creature by preserving its fear of humans. If you are OK with the owl and would like to enhance the area near the porch as habitat, you could add a wooden fence post or T shaped perch for it. They use perches like this to look out for predators and keep an eye on the nearby areas. If you see him/her sitting on your patio furniture, it may be doing the same thing. You can also limit the use of pesticides in the yard as they mainly eat insects. Florida burrowing owls are not nocturnal hunters, like most owls, so he/she may be retreating to their burrow at night. It's nature, so anything is possible, but generally they are most active during the day hunting beetles, grasshoppers and even small lizards or frogs. For more information on this amazing protected species, check out Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website on burrowing owls: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/owls/burrowing-owl/ OR Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology's website: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Burrowing_Owl/lifehistory
September 16, 2018
I have an adult burrowing owl which has taken up residence on my front porch. He/she has been staying on my porch or in the adjacent low trees during the day for about 3 weeks now. He/she leaves at night, presumably to hunt? I am concerned that the owl seems so isolated. Apart from being alone, it appears to be in excellent physical condition. There has been a lot of construction nearby, so it might have had its burrow disrupted. There are also many protected burrowing sites very close by, so relocation would not seem difficult for it to manage on its own. I know I am not supposed to make a "pet" of this owl, but we love having it as a guest. Can I do anything for him/her to improve his happiness?
September 14, 2018
Good morning, You can information about all of our local classes on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pg/PolkExtension/events) OR on our website (https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/events-and-programming/). Thank you for your interest!
September 13, 2018
I am interested in more canning classes. If you have AM classes Mon-Thur and all day Fri I am available those times. Are there any other classes the extension teach? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks
August 30, 2018
Hi Gary, Great question! It is entirely possible that you saw some air potato leaf beetles, even if you don't think there is any air potato nearby. The beetles may be looking for additional food patches and are travelling between them, or there may be some young air potato nearby that isn't populous enough to be noticed yet. There is no need to report it, they are expected to spread out across Florida. If you have any doubt about whether it is an air potato leaf beetle or a similar looking species, your local UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener plant clinic may be able to help confirm your identification. You can find your local UF/IFAS Extension office here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/ Thanks for the comment and I hope you have a great day!
August 25, 2018
I just photographed an Air Potato Leaf Beetle in my suburban garden in The Villages, Sumter County. I do not think there are any air potatoes around here, but there must be if that if the only foliage the beetle can eat. Should I report this, or are they becoming so widespread they can be expected anywhere?
August 20, 2018
Good morning Rhonda, Unfortunately I know this problem all to well! I also suffer with a white house on a lake, and the midges love it. Current research is not robust enough for me to give you a certain answer on the best color to paint your house; however, research suggests that they are attracted to lighter colored surfaces. As you can see from the blog post above, one of the "trapping" recommendations involves using bright light and another, to shine bright light on a light colored surface like a white fence. My recommendations would be a combination approach. - First and foremost, you must reduce the lighting around your house. Switch to motion-sensitive lights outside only, and use curtains or blinds inside the home to reduce the light coming from windows. You'll see the biggest improvement from these changes. - If you are already looking to paint your house or have already tried all the other suggestions, you might consider a darker paint color. Specifically, my logical assumption would be that paint which reflects less of the street lights and moonlight would be best for reducing the number of midges resting on the wall. At my house, I can anecdotally say that the shaded areas of my white house attract far less blind mosquitoes than the areas reflecting the streetlight. HOWEVER: Note that blind mosquitoes land on anything they can to rest (even dark dirt or plants) so changing the paint isn't likely to have a huge impact on its own. - Try a light trap in addition to the two suggestions above. If your yard is large enough, put a bright yard light in a far corner. This will attract the blind mosquitoes over to that point, and away from your home. Keep in mind, changing paint color may have a slight impact on your home cooling costs as darker colors retain more heat. Additionally, a yard light acting as a light trap will cause some light pollution on your lakefront. This could impact negatively wildlife and your views of the water or the stars. Unfortunately, this is a complicated problem with best results coming from a combination approach. Start with the excess lighting around your house, and see if that makes a difference. Simply switching our front door light to motion-activated has made a world of difference for my family. We still have a lot of midges at times, but they no longer gather in plague-like numbers around the front door. Best wishes and please, feel free to reach out with any follow-up questions you may have.
August 19, 2018
We just recently bought a house on the lake with white siding and a red metal roof. The midges are making us crazy!! Are they attracted to a white house??? What color could we paint it that won't attract them?!
August 6, 2018
Hi Frank, I understand your concern. The good news is that infections are very rare. The chances of infection are highest in shallow lakes and ponds during the hottest months of the year. The CDC made some recommendations to lower personal risk even further: - Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater. - Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters. - Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature. - Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.
August 1, 2018
Im a nervous wreck about this i work in lakes and get water in my nose frequently
July 26, 2018
Hi TJ, In my review of the literature, I've not found that as a recommended practice to break the reproductive cyce of blind mosquitoes. Remember, blind mosquitos are not true mosquitoes. They breed in natural and man-made water bodies, often large in size. The lakes and ponds naturally have water movement to them due to wind and storms. Therefore, a fountain is unlikely to have a large effect on populations. If the pond is small, then aeration caused by the fountain may help improve the water quality slightly by increasing dissolved oxygen. However, this is unlikely to improve the water quality to such a degree that midges would be reduced. Review the Freshwater Aquatic Midge Integrated Pest Management (FAM IPM) Plan for more information.
July 25, 2018
Mary, We just wrapped up our 2018 class. If you would like, I can add you to the list of people that I will contact when we do our 2019 class.
July 25, 2018
Would installation of a fountain inn a pond which will continuously make the water choppy work to keep them from laying eggs?
July 25, 2018
Good Morning. When is the next Master Gardener Class?
July 9, 2018
Good morning Tony, Apologies for the slow reply. I would recommend contacting the Duval County Extension office for some local help with that question. If you click the following link, it will take you Pesticide Licensing page of the UF/IFAS Extension Duval County website: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/duval/hort-and-pest/pesticide-licensing/ Thanks for your interest and I hope this is helpful! **If anyone else is reading this and needs to find their local extension office, follow this link: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/ **
June 26, 2018
Good afternoon Sunny, Great question! Yes, I do. Please see this document, Creating Wildlife Habitat with Native Florida Freshwater Wetland Plants for detailed information, there are lists of native species and some descriptions at the end of the document. There are many native species ducks are known to favor and can be found from nurseries with aquatic plants, including: - soft rush (Juncus effusus) - pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) - fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata) The following link is information about habitat which related to duck hunting, but the habitat information is aimed at supporting duck populations so it applies to your question: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/manage/overview-of-florida-waters/shared-uses-and-functions-and-the-potential-for-conflicts/duck-hunting/ I hope this is helpful, please feel free to contact me if you have further questions. Shannon
June 26, 2018
Do you have recommendtions for types of native Florida grasses or plants that could provide a habitat for the ducks. We live on a pond that has about 80 ducks, mostly molted, but also Whistling and Mallards. There are also heron, egrets, wood storks, sandhills and migrating pelicans twice a year. Thanks.
June 25, 2018
Hi Mary, I live in Jacksonville FL and would like to obtain my round up license. Can you point me out towards that direction?
June 20, 2018
I feel your pain. I have a similar situation with a laurel oak with codominant trucks one of which is over the house. It made it through the last two hurricanes but two arborists agree that it needs to come out before it ends up on my roof. A family owned tree surgeon company will be removing it with great care. I am actually looking forward to doing new landscaping after it's removed.
May 31, 2018
everyone on this website should read "hoot" by carl hiaasen its a cute childrens book about these owls.
May 21, 2018
Hi Linda, Thanks for your interest in the program and I am sorry to hear of the damage to your morning glories. Years of research and testing has suggested that the air potato leaf beetle larvae will not eat anything other than the exotic air potato vine. However, if working in Natural Resources in Florida has taught me anything, it’s that the unexpected can and does happen. There are millions of insect species and so many of them look very similar. If you are seeing evidence of air potato beetles eating non-target plants, please take a few clear photos and send them to me at the contact information found here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/ I am happy to follow-up with some of our entomology specialists and confirm the species at fault. Thank you again for your interest in the program and for keeping an eye on the little guys.
May 21, 2018
Good morning Roger, I'm sorry to hear of your blind mosquito problem. In most cases, the Home Owner Association is responsible for all maintenance and management of storm water ponds which are part of the housing development. This would include management for blind mosquitoes and other pests but I cannot comment on whether they are obligated to provide that service or not. I do recommend providing the integrated pest management plan for freshwater midges to them as a management option to reduce the blind mosquito populations. Gambusia are small insectivorous fish which may help by eating the blind mosquito larvae but for effective control in a stormwater pond, you'll likely need to combine it with landscaping changes and chemical management as well. See the integrated pest management plan for more information on this. All the fish species you mentioned live together in natural lakes, they all eat insects. Largemouth bass are predator fish and will hunt these species. For information on where to purchase fingerlings, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a list of known hatcheries who sell fingerlings for stocking private ponds: http://myfwc.com/media/131389/Freshwater_FishStockingList.pdf If you have questions about properly stocking the pond, please call your regional FWC office at the numbers provided here: http://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-staff/regional-offices/ Thank you for your question!
May 21, 2018
I have a house by a retention pond. Blind mosquitoes are terrible. We have a HOA that maintains the pond by mowing only. Might they be responsible for control? Hillsborough county is giving away gambusia fish.Will they eat blind mosquitoes? Where could someone get bluegill or red ear as you suggest.Can all three fish live together? Please help.
May 17, 2018
I have seen these in polk county the last three seasons. Unfortunately, they also decimated my moon flower, native morning glories and other varieties of morning glory vines.
May 14, 2018
Good Afternoon Rhonda, I'm sorry to hear that you are also dealing with midges. If it's any consolation, under normal conditions, they are a valuable part of the ecosystem. In my answer to Ms. Jacob, the chemical control we don't typically recommend are contact insecticides where the midges rest, like walls, windows, and other property. The reason for this is that those "bug sprays" also kill insects which hunt and eat the adult blind mosquitoes, reducing any natural predators you may have to help with the issue and not actually tackling the issue of having too many adult midges. To answer your question briefly, yes, (S)-Methoprene is an appropriate chemical treatment for freshwater non-biting midges in Florida and is recommended by IFAS researchers. Please remember that the label is the law and you must not apply it any in any does other than the recommended dose, per label instructions. However, to answer fully, use of that treatment is recommended as part of the 4-step process described in the blog post, Freshwater Aquatic Midge Integrated Pest Management Plan. Use of (S)-methoprene is step four of this plan. For effective control of midges, IFAS researchers recommend implementing all four steps. 1. Control Algae: Midge larva eat algae. Control algae in the pond and reduce the food source. 2. Stock insectivorous fish (bluegill, red ear) to biologically control aquatic midges in ponds. 3. Use Light Traps in unoccupied parts of the yard and reduce or eliminate outdoor house lighting. (I recommend using motion-activated lights) 4. Use of Insect Growth Regulators (IGRS) in non-natural lakes like ponds and storm water features. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me. My contact information is on my profile. Thank you and best of luck managing this all-to-common issue!
May 14, 2018
Shannon; Thanks for responding to this question. We are like Ms. Jacob above; we built a new home on 50 acres where a 5 acre pond is yards from our backdoor. Beautiful view...but from 5PM-11AM, the midges are everywhere, The pond looks as if it has pollen on it, the film of midges is so heavy. We spray the entry doors every night with bug spray just to open the door. We have found something recently; a 30-day non-hazardous release treatment of the EPA-approved insect growth regulator, (S)-Methoprene. It claims they’re ideal for aerial and ground applications, targets only aquatic flies, with no impact on beneficial insects and organisms and will not harm aquatic wildlife. It also says it Is an Insect Growth Regulator, therefore midge and filter flies will not develop into adults. What are your thoughts on this? We would like to order some ASAP. Thank you
May 8, 2018
Hi Conrad, Typically, I do not recommend bug zappers for insect pest control. My reasoning for this is they tend to kill a lot of non-target species which do not bother residents and aren't all that effective at targeting the species you want to eliminate. For the bright light to work, it can be a regular lightbulb but it needs to be the brightest thing in the yard. All other lights should be switched off or be motion-activated. The bright light will attract them away from your home, at night to the area of the yard where you put the light. During the day, they will rest on any vegetation or surface they can find, although they seem to prefer the shade and to be out of the wind. Some residents have reported some short-term (as in the rest of the day) success by using a leaf blower to blow them away from doors during the day, but it is not a long-term solution. This may work for a few hours or for the rest of the day as blind mosquitoes are not strong fliers and will prefer to rest wherever you have blown them to. Red light at night or the color red during the daytime is not thought to repel the blind mosquitoes, but at night it is not expected to attract them as white or yellow light does. I hope this is helpful, thanks for reading!
May 8, 2018
Hi Karen, Great question. Burrowing owls and their eggs are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty and additionally, they are classified as a State Threatened species by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). As a direct quote from FWC's website, "This means that taking, possessing, or selling burrowing owls, their nests (i.e., burrows), or eggs is prohibited without a permit (68A-27 F.A.C.)." If development is planned in an area with burrowing owls are present, there is the possibility that they have a permit which allows that through FWC. For questions related to Florida wildlife which are legal in nature, I recommend you speak with your local FWC office as they will have the authority to issue those permits (if applicable). You can find your local FWC office's contact info here: http://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-staff/regional-offices/ Thanks for reading!
May 7, 2018
Will a zapper with a bright light work and how big should it be. I live on lake Dora and walking through the grass will cause an attack. I don’t know about a red light because when the sun is out they will pretty much cover my red truck.
May 5, 2018
Can a land developer building on a golf course cover burrowing owls habitat with roads and houses. The burrowing owl designated areas have been there over 30 years for the protection of the burrowing owl.
April 26, 2018
Hi Greg, Thanks for the great question! I just spoke with one of our researchers in the Entomology and Nematology Department and they indicated that the color of the light wouldn't make much of an difference unless it was a red light. Red light falls outside of the light spectrum that most insects respond to and so, it's logical to think that the midges may not be attracted to it. If you are interested in reducing the attractiveness of your home to midges, and other insects, I generally recommend a switch to motion activated lights instead of leaving a porch light on all night. In addition, a bright light farther away from the porch can draw the midges away. This light may have an added benefit of illuminating your home or porch, but for this strategy to work, it cannot be brightly illuminating the porch area. I hope this is helpful; thanks for reading!
April 24, 2018
Will yellow "insect lights" around the house help keep them away ? Thanks
April 10, 2018
Happy to share and glad you enjoyed the article!
April 10, 2018
I was cheerful and happy enthusiastic when this blog was presented. Interesting stuff to read
April 9, 2018
Great question. Yes you can and many homeowners do. However, if you live in a community with a HOA, you may want to verify any rules for placement in the landscape.
April 5, 2018
Am I allowed to have rain barrels where I live in Polk county
March 23, 2018
Hi "student"! Burrowing owls are one of many species of owls found in Florida. To learn about the different species, watch our webinar recording: https://youtu.be/XhTFTNucDcw. Let me know if you have any specific questions, you can contact me at the information here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/ -Shannon
March 23, 2018
Hi Vicktoria, If you're in Florida and the owl looks similar in size to a burrowing owl but is using a nest box in a tree, it's most likely an Eastern Screech Owl. If it looks like a burrowing owl but is much larger, 16-24 inches tall, you could be looking at a barred owl. You can learn more about them by watching our webinar recording: https://youtu.be/XhTFTNucDcw OR, by reading about them on Cornell University's Ornithology website: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Screech-Owl/id and https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barred_Owl/ I hope that helps you to identify the owl you're seeing, let me know if you need more help with owl ID! :) - Shannon
March 22, 2018
Do Burrowing Owls use a nesting box? We have a wooden box 7.5' x 7.5"x 12" with a larger hole that was originally made for squirrels. The owl using the box looks like the burrowing owl.
March 22, 2018
what is different between burrowing owls and regular owls? Please respond i'm doing a project on these creatures
March 19, 2018
I'd be happy to take a look. If you're in the Central Florida area, I may be able to help. If you're not, I may be able to recommend a better contact. You can find my contact information here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/natural-resources-and-conservation/
March 19, 2018
Hi Ms. Jacob, I'm so sorry to hear about the issues you are describing. The blind mosquitoes can certainly be a big problem here in Florida, so I understand the uncomfortable situation you're in. We don't typically recommend chemical control for aquatic midges to residents since they aren't especially effective, can be expensive, and often kill predator species too (which can mean less natural control of midge populations). The biggest recommendation we have is to reduce the amount of light around residences or to use a "light trap" in an unused corner of the property. Essentially, these insects are attracted to light. They will swarm doors and windows to get at the lights in and around your home. You can try switching to motion activated porch lights, using curtains to block light from inside your home, and add a bright yard light to an unused area to attract them to that part of the yard. The good news is, they rapidly die off. You can use a blower or broom to remove the old ones and reduce the smell. Hope this helps! You may want to contact your local Louisiana Extension Service: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/portals/our_offices/parishes for information more specific to your area.
March 18, 2018
I have a picture of 'ducks in as row' and curious od the specific dock. Can I send it for evaluation?
March 17, 2018
UF/IFAS University of Florida, We are having an enormous problem with millions of Blind Mosquitoes around and on our homes. They have literally invaded our homes, cars and anything that stands still outdoors. They rush through home and vehicle doors by the dozens when entering or exiting, and YES they stain everything. Is there any sprays or chemicals you can recommend to our residents??? We are being taken over!!! HELP... Disgusted in Des Allemands, Louisiana Ms. Jeanne Jacob
March 13, 2018
Anne thanks for the nice article, your veggies are looking beauty full in pictures you have posted above, nice
March 12, 2018
Good morning, Ayako, My educated guess is that the monogamous pair have chosen the nest you saw them in but either "lost" their eggs due to weather or predator, or have not yet laid them. Great horned owls are very territorial during nesting season, so it makes sense that they would stay nearby if they were going to nest soon. Great horned owls typically lay their eggs from December through March, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission but, wildlife don't always pay attention to our estimates of their behavior. :) After laying their eggs, great horned owls will incubate them for 4-5 weeks. Keep an eye on the pair and be careful not to disturb them with light or noise, it could cause them to avoid nesting in your area. Best wishes for your owl viewing, hopefully you'll see a large fuzzy chick or two very soon! You can learn more about great horned owls here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl
March 12, 2018
I captured a photo of two great horned owls in a nest on pine tree on shore line next to my dock. They did not stay in the nest for a long time. They are sleeping on my other pine tree in my yard every night. Is the nesting season over? I am very excited to spot them every day.
March 2, 2018
Good morning George, the Spring GardenFest Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM EDT. Hope to see you there! If you would like to sign up for a garden tour or register for a worm farming class, please see this website: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gardenfest-plant-sale-workshops-demonstration-gardens-tours-tickets-40945255361
February 28, 2018
When is the 2018 spring Polk County master gardeners plant sale going to be held?
February 28, 2018
Thank you for the informative article and beautiful pictures
January 16, 2018
Hi Jan, The best way to find similar events is to sign up for our residential e-newletter at: http://eepurl.com/b8TR8r OR, by looking at the eventbrite page for the Natural Resources program and Residential Horticulture programs. You can find those links here: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk/events-and-programming/ and look under "REGISTER ONLINE FOR:" Thanks for your interest!
January 16, 2018
Hi Brandon! Seeing owls together is always exciting. Depending on the time of year, you could have seen an "almost adult" fledgling learning to hunt from a parent. Or, if closer to the Fall and Winter, you might have seen two mating adults. Depending on the species, this courtship behavior takes place at different times of the year. Some species mate for life, others just for the season. Since you say they were huge, they could have been Great Horned Owls! You can learn more about them here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/id Thanks for your comment and your interest in owls, I hope you have a great day!
January 2, 2018
Hi! I was just browsing and found this "Kid Free Adult Camp" info...which has already passed. How can I get info on upcoming similar events? Thanks! Jan Jackson email@example.com
December 21, 2017
I just moved to gulf breeze Florida from Phoenix Arizona. I have never seen 2 owls together until me and my brother were in the back yard and we seen 2huge owls. We we're wandering are they mating .
November 26, 2017
September 14, 2017
Good morning, Jean, I'm so sorry to hear about the issue you had with the neighboring marina. If your dock sustained any damage as a result of this action, I would encourage you to seek professional legal advice. The information we are sharing here for boat owners isn't meant to be used in legal situations but instead, to help our fellow Floridians prepare as best as possible for an incoming storm event. Again, I'm sorry to hear about the situation you described with the neighboring marina and hope your dock and the boats involved fared well in the storm. If there are any questions you might have regarding storm recovery, I encourage you to check out this list of resources from UF/IFAS Extension: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/news/2017/09/06/hurricane-irma-updates/
September 9, 2017
A boat from a marina across my private dock tied a 60' boat to my dock with out my permission in preparation for Irma. What are the liabilities involved in untying the boat from my dock? I am furious with what they did. I think it's trespassing and that the marina should take care of their renters.
July 5, 2017
Debbie, We are working on scheduling a few! Check back with us at http://polkgardening.eventbrite.com for classes. Thank you!
July 2, 2017
I would love to attend the class on succulent dish gardens
June 2, 2017
Jane, I'm so sorry to hear about your friends' loss. Please feel free to share this information or the newsletter with anyone you wish. Thank you for your comment and encouragement.
June 2, 2017
Thank you for publishing this important information. I have friends, a pediatric hospitalist and an infectious disease specialist who lost their beloved son to this disease. They spread the word about amoebic infection wherever they can and I appreciate that it was put into the Master Gardener newsletter.
May 25, 2017
Hi Jim, Thanks for your comment. You're right in that jumping in the water is not a good way to scare a bear. We do recommend "Scaring that bear" by talking to the bear, in a low, firm, deep voice, in addition to yelling, making noise and "looking big" by raising your arms. That said, I couldn't tell you how a bear might react to singing off-key or with a haunting wail. As far as bicyclists are concerned, Florida black bears can sprint up to 35 miles per hour, so I wouldn't advise getting on a bike and attempting to flee if you are at a close distance. At a close distance, act large and back away slowly. If you are a far distance away, I'd recommend stopping and allowing that bear to move on it's way. If you are concerned about surprising a bear while biking, you could add a "bear-bell" to your bike frame which might alert the bear to your presence and give him or her time to hide or leave the area. For more specific recommendations regarding bear encounters while biking or to report an aggressive bear, contact Florida Fish and Wildlife: http://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-staff/regional-offices/
May 25, 2017
Black bears can swim, so jumping in some water to avoid an attack won't work. There are many reports, even YouTube videos, that say singing, especially off-key, will scare a bear away. I wonder if making a haunting wail like a ghost would be effective? I wish these various bear websites would say what bicyclists should do. Pedal as fast as you can in the opposite direction or get off and "back away slowly"?
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