National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015

NISAW Webinar Sponsors

As part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, the University of Florida, Auburn University, University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, and Southern IPM Center are proud to present the following webinars:

February 23, 2015

Managing the US invasion of Cryptic Whitefly Species: Q vs. B whiteflies


  • Lance Osborne, University of Florida

WhiteflyWhiteflies pose a significant issue because, some vector viruses, many have wide host ranges and have a demonstrated a propensity to develop resistance to insecticides. Florida and other states have been invaded by a significant number of species since the early 1900’s causing major economic losses by vegetable, cotton, citrus and ornamental industries.  In this webinar, I will discuss our response to infestations of Bemisia tabaci (B and Q biotypes), Aleurodicus rugioperculatus (rugose spiraling whitefly), Singhiella simplex (ficus whitefly), and Paraleyrodes bondari (Bondar’s nesting whitefly). The response has been a cooperative effort between Federal and State officials, impacted industries, scientists from many Land Grant Universities and USDA-ARS.  To date, the programs envisioned by USDA-APHIS  and facilitated by industry groups representing ornamentals, vegetables and cotton have prevented the catastrophic losses observed in the 1990’s by B-biotype of Bemisia tabaci

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North American Q-biotype invasion project


  • Cindy McKenzie, USDA ARS

Biotype invasion projectAfter the 2004 discovery of the Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) Q biotype in the U.S., there was a vital need to determine the geographical and host distribution as well as its interaction with the resident B biotype because of its innate ability to rapidly develop high-level insecticide resistance that persists in the absence of exposure. As part of a coordinated country-wide effort, an extensive survey of B. tabaci biotypes was conducted in North America, with the cooperation of growers, industry, local, state, and federal agencies, to monitor the introduction and distribution of the Q biotype.  The biotype status of submitted B. tabaci samples was determined by PCR amplification and sequencing of a mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I small subunit (mtCOI) gene fragment, characterization of two biotype discriminating nuclear microsatellite markers and esterase zymogram analysis.  Two hundred and eighty collections were sampled from the U.S., Bermuda, Canada and Mexico during the period of Jan 2005 through Dec 2010.  Host plants were split between ornamental plant and culinary herb (67%) and vegetable and field crop (33%) commodities. The New World biotype was detected on field-grown tomatoes in Mexico (2) and in commercial greenhouses in Texas (3) and represented 100% of these five collections.  To our knowledge, the latter identification represents the first report of the New World biotype in the United States since its rapid displacement in the late 1980s after the introduction of biotype B.  Seventy-one percent of all collections contained at least one biotype B individual and 53% of all collections contained only biotype B whiteflies.  Biotype Q was detected in 23 states in the U. S., Canada (British Columbia and Ontario territories), Bermuda, and Mexico. Forty-five percent of all collections were found to contain biotype Q in samples from ornamentals, herbs and a single collection from tomato transplants located in protected commercial horticultural greenhouses but there were no Q detections in outdoor agriculture (vegetable or field crops).  Ten of the 15 collections (67%) from Canada and a single collection from Bermuda contained biotype Q which represents the first reports of biotype Q for both countries.  Three distinct populations of B. tabaci biotype Q whiteflies were detected in North America differentiated at both mitochondrial and nuclear loci.  Our data are consistent with the inference of independent invasions from at least three different locations. Of the 4,641 individuals analyzed from 517 collections which include data from McKenzie et al. 2009, only 16 individuals contained genetic/zymogram signatures that suggested possible hybridization of the Q and B biotypes and there was no evidence that rare hybrid B-Q marker co-occurrences persisted in any populations.

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February 24, 2015

Bermudagrass stem maggot, a new pest of forage grasses in the Southeast?


  • Russ Mizell, University of Florida

bermudagrass stem maggotFirst seen in California in 2010, bermudagrass stem maggot is now found throughout the southeast. They infest the stem of the grass and can turn a field brown quickly. University of Florida extension specialists set up monitoring traps in various fields, along with online resources and alert systems to learn more about the pest. With no threshold on record, scientists need to be able to understand the biology and phenology of the pest to be able to predict its seasonal entry and exit. Dr. Mizell explains what is involved in understanding phenology and why it is so important.

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Air Potato Biological Control Extension Needs Assessment


Gioeli, K., Overholt, W., Rayamajhi, M., Rohrig, E., Hibbard, K., Diaz, R., and Manrique, V (Ken Gioeli presenting)

Air potato biocontrolA new initiative is helping connect land managers struggling with invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) with a new weapon in our arsenal: the air potato leaf beetle (Lilioceris cheni).  Host specificity testing for the air potato leaf beetle was undertaken by scientists at the USDA ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale. In 2014, an Air Potato Biological Control Extension Needs Assessment was conducted to help better target outreach efforts for this initiativeResults of the Air Potato Biological Control Extension Needs Assessment will be shared with participants in this webinar.  Survey methodology will also be discussed.  Afterwards, webinar participants will have the opportunity to learn more about this biological control program though our project website:

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February 25, 2015

Integrated Management of the Invasive Aquatic Weed Hydrilla


  • James P. Cuda and Emma N. I Weeks (Jim Cuda presenting), University of Florida

integrated management of hydrillaHydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) causes serious environmental and economic impacts in Florida and elsewhere. When left unmanaged, hydrilla creates damaging infestations that choke out native plants, clog flood control structures, and impede waterway navigation and recreational use. Moreover, hydrilla is showing resistance to the herbicides fluridone and endothall. To tackle this problem, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research and extension faculty are partnering with Florida A&M University faculty, and a Corps of Engineers plant pathologist to evaluate biological control agents in combination with a new herbicide treatment as part of an overall hydrilla integrated pest management (IPM) plan.

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SolviNix, a novel bioherbicide for Solanum viarum (tropical soda apple)


  • Raghavan Charudattan, University of Florida

solvinixSolviNix® LC is a novel biological herbicide containing a plant virus, Tobacco mild green mosaic tobamovirus strain U2 (common name: Tobacco mild green mosaic virus strain U2; TMGMV U2), as the active ingredient. It is now registered under FIFRA Section 3 as a post-emergent bioherbicide to control Solanum viarum (tropical soda apple; TSA), an exotic, invasive, Noxious Weed found in pastures and wooded conservation areas in Florida and the neighboring states. The registration, effective December 11, 2014, marked the first time a plant virus was approved as an herbicide active ingredient. SolviNix® LC is a TSA-specific herbicide; it will control TSA without harming grass, legumes such as clovers and perennial peanut, and native plants commonly found in pastures and wooded areas in the Southeast except a few species in the Solanaceae. A brief description of the product, label restrictions, application methods, use directions, the targeted market niche, and other key aspects will be presented.

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February 26, 2015

The Art of Detection; the importance of accuracy in identification in invasives (microbes and plants and insects, oh my!)


  • Presented by Carrie Harmon, University of Florida

The art of detectionThe plant world is constantly under attack by invaders.  Management by avoiding their introduction, or by treatment when discovered in our environment, is only possible when we know exactly what we are dealing with.  I will discuss a few examples of identification tools, explain the difficulty in managing diseases without accurate diagnosis, and introduce the audience to networks and organizations that make it their mission to slow the spread of these plant enemies.



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The First Coast Invasives Working Group; role of Master Gardeners


  • Rebecca L. Jordi & Tina Gordon

First Coast InvasivesMillions of dollars are spend each year to remove, control and manage invasive plants in wildlife conservation areas, along roadsides and within municipal parks.  Residents and newcomers to Florida are confused about what plants are appropriate for Florida as they believe whatever is sold in local garden centers must suitable for their landscape. Often large garden centers mislabel and sell plants which might be safe to plant in one part of the country but totally inappropriate for our area. Educational programs to the general public, which include mass media outlets, seem to be the best inroad for making changes in public perceptions and purchasing behaviors.  Part of the overall goal is to identify the most troubling invasive plant pests in the local area, plan removal programs using volunteers when possible and providing alternatives to the plant pests. Some plant removal successes have been made at local parks with residential participants, Master Gardener volunteers, the University of Florida's Extension programs and the First Coast Invasive Working Group in Northeast Florida.  Every program must start with identification of the most prevalent invasive pests found at local parks and public beaches.  After these "clean-up" programs of the invasive pests, one of the most positive aspects has been an inspiring resurgence of native plants and animals.

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February 27, 2015

Tawny Crazy Ants: There’s a Reason We Call Them Crazy!


  • Fudd Graham, Auburn University

Tawny crazy antsUntil two years ago, the Tawny Crazy Ant was considered to be three separate subspecies of ant, the Rasberry Crazy Ant, the Hairy Crazy ant and the Caribbean crazy ant.  This exotic, invasive species came to the attention of the media in urban landscapes in Houston, TX as the Rasberry crazy ant.  From 2004 until 2012, it was confined to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Now, infestations can be found in Alabama and Georgia.  These ants establish large super-colonies containing multiple queens that occur in numerous nests and support millions of worker.  They are very difficult to eliminate and the effects on native fauna are not known. Tawny crazy ants were initially found to be a problem in urban landscapes, but are now found in pecan orchards, hay fields, and are threatening the ornamental and turf industry. Their spread usually occurs by human assistance.

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February 27, 2015

Initiation of An Integrated Regional Response to an Invasive Aphid Pest of Sorghum: from Near-term Control to Long-term Management


  • Michael Brewer, Texas A&M AgriLife Research

integrated management of sorghum aphidThis talk will review the currently known impact and management approaches for the sugarcane aphid on grain sorghum. In 2013, sugarcane aphid infestations on sorghum were confirmed in 38 counties in four states and one state in northeast Mexico.  In 2014, the aphid expanded its range to least 287 counties in 11 states and 3 states in northern Mexico, making it one of the most expansive aphid invasion of a field crop in North America. Professionals from the Land-Grant Research and Extension system worked with the sorghum industry and USDA to communicate and coordinate a regional response to this invasive aphid pest.  The integrated regional response included activities on near-term control strategies to prevent negative impacts to sorghum production, and  planning and conducting initial work on more integrated longer-term management. The talk will end with thoughts on research and extension approaches and needs when addressing an invasive pest affecting a large-scale agricultural production system such as sorghum.

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