Invasive Insect Species Found in Pinellas
The Q-biotype whitefly feeds on more than 900 types of plants and are considered a major invasive species worldwide. They are resistant to most insecticides, which makes them hard to control.
PINELLAS COUNTY -A a new invasive species with the potential to cause major problems for homeowners and commercial growers has been discovered in Pinellas County, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension service and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The species, called the Q-biotype whitefly, was recently discovered in a Pinellas County nursery and has also been reported in at least seven other Florida counties. Agriculture experts believe the whitefly population increase could become serious.
The insects feed on more than 900 types of plants and are considered a major invasive species worldwide. Whiteflies are considered dangerous because, if not controlled, they could have devastating effects on crops including: tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons and many other fruits, vegetables and several other species of plants grown in the state.
This is the first time these Q-biotype insects have been found outside a production nursery. They are resistant to most insecticides, which makes them hard to control.
Consumers are urged to inspect any new plants for the species prior to buying or planting them, and to be on the lookout for the whiteflies in yards when landscaping.
Home gardeners may realize a whitefly presence if leaves begin suffering from stippling (spotting), puckering or develop a substance resembling soot. When a large amount of adult whiteflies is present, touching the plant may produce a white cloud of large dust-like particles.
UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension agents encourage residents who may have discovered a whitefly infestation to call the Extension office at (727) 582-2100 and bring specimens into the extension office at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo. The Largo office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
When bringing damaged leaves and/or specimens to the Extension Office:
- *Wrap samples in a dry paper towel.
*Place them in a sealable plastic bag and then inside an envelope.
*If possible, freeze specimens overnight.
*Transport only dead specimens.
When providing whitefly samples, residents should include: date, location, type of vegetation affected, estimated number of whiteflies and whether the plant has been treated with pesticides.
Extension agents recommend that home gardeners and landscapers use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils to help control whitefly populations if they are discovered in yards.
UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County is a partnership between Pinellas County government and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences as part of a nationwide network of land grant universities.
For information about UF/IFAS, go to ifas.ufl.edu.
Photo of the Q-biotype whitefly courtesy of Pinellas County.
Pinellas County | UF/IFAS | Agriculture | Insect | Invasive Species | Q-biotype Whitefly | TB Reporter
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