Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program
Several surveys are designed, conducted, and analyzed each year by CAPS program managers and state survey coordinators, according to national guidelines and special pest watch lists. Surveys can range in intensity from teams of pest survey specialists (PSS) inspecting a single location for one day only, to stand-alone traps which are set up in remote locations and inspected for evidence of a specific pest. CAPS hierarchy is a three-tiered system of recommendations and decisions coming from the national, regional and state levels.Go to: Current Surveys | Past Surveys | Future Surveys
- Red Palm Mite (RPM) - This tropical-subtropical pest of palms and bananas is widespread in the Middle East and Far East Asia, and was first reported in the Western Hemisphere in 2004 in the eastern Caribbean island of Martinique. Since then, it has progressed rapidly towards the U.S. - by way of Saint Lucia and Dominica in 2005; the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin and Trinidad-Tobago in 2006; and the US Virgin Islands, Grenada, Venezuela, and Jamaica in early 2007. The explosive appearance of the red palm mite in the Caribbean Region is a serious pest risk for Florida as well as the entire Caribbean Region and the subtropical areas of the United States. In response, the CAPS team and cooperators quickly mobilized in early 2007 to survey palms in high-risk areas in Miami-Dade, Broward , Monroe, and Hillsborough Counties. No red palm mite was found, and a more extensive survey involving the placement of sentinel sites took place in May 2007. Many inspectors from both the Florida and USDA Fruit Fly Inspection Program joined the CAPS sentinel site surveying effort in a cooperative venture. English and Spanish language flyers were distributed to South Florida nurseries and landscapers as well as cruise ships and tourists because of the risk of the mites being present on such tourist items as palm hats and other handmade crafts. Over 500 sentinel sites have been established in 11 counties and pest survey specialists continually survey for RPM in nurseries and residential areas in addition to marinas and maritime ports. The red palm mite was intercepted by CAPS and DPI personnel on May 31, 2007 at a palm nursery on coconut seeds imported from Jamaica, and was the first nursery interception in the state. On November 29, 2007, the first detection of red palm mites was made in Palm Beach Gardens (Palm Beach Co.) on a coconut palm at a sentinel site. This particular tree had several colonies of red palm mites infesting it. A delimiting survey was immediately initiated by the CAPS team and cooperators on December 4. Within a week, several RPM colonies were found in Palm Beach County and as far south as Ft. Lauderdale in Broward County. As of March 2008, RPM has only been found in these two counties in Florida. For more information, go to the DPI - Red Palm Mite Web Site, and for further reading download the 2007 Florida CAPS Red Palm Mite Survey 2nd Interim Report , the CAPS Overview of Red Palm Mite PowerPoint Presentation , and our 2007 RPM Survey Monitoring through GIS poster.
- Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) - On February 6, 2007, a suspected LBAM (Epiphyas postvittana) was discovered in Alameda County, California. On March 16, 2007, California confirmed findings of LBAM in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and by the end of July 2007, the LBAM had also been detected in a total of 11 counties: San Francisco, Marin, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Napa, Los Angeles, and Solano counties. LBAM is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Hawaii. Over 250 plant species are known to be susceptible to attack by this pest. The major domestic hosts of concern are stone fruit (cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots), pip fruit (apples and pears), grapes and citrus. Due to the current situation in California, Florida has implemented specific inspection and shipping requirements for all live plant, cut foliage and cut flower shipments from the entire State of California as well as prior notification requirements from all current and future counties where LBAM is detected. In July 2007, CAPS Pest Survey Specialists, with help from State Inspectors, placed LBAM sentinel traps in 16 selected high-risk Florida nurseries which import likely plants from California, and as of March 2008, the number of traps had increased to 24, with more on the way due to a national survey requirement to place two traps per location. These LBAM traps are checked weekly, with the aim of preventing a similar situation to that in California from occurring in Florida, and as of March 2008, all of these traps have been negative for the LBAM. For more information, view the DPI Light Brown Apple Moth - Biology, Survey, Control presentation or visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture Web Site and the USDA - light brown apple moth Web Site.
- Crop Surveys - Ongoing crop surveys to monitor for invasive pest species are conducted each year in the spring and fall. Sites are located in four north Florida counties and three south Florida counties for each of the major crops (peanuts, cotton, soybeans, beans, peas, peppers, tomato and citrus). The 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 spring and fall surveys were all negative for targeted invasive pest species. Note that the 2004 fall survey in North Florida was interrupted due to the active hurricane season which wiped out most of the crops as well as limiting travel and inspection opportunities. In 2006, CAPS surveyed the following crops:
- Potatoes - A total of 2005 acres representing five different locations in two counties were surveyed during March and April 2006. Forty-four plant and insect samples were submitted for identification and all were negative for targeted invasive pest species.
- Sugarcane - A total of approximately 300 acres representing 10 different locations in three counties were surveyed during July 2006. Sixty-two plant and insect samples were submitted for identification and all were negative for targeted invasive pest species.
- Tomatoes - A total of 703 acres representing 18 different locations in six counties were surveyed during the period of March-May 2006. Sixty-nine plant and insect samples were submitted for identification and all were negative for targeted invasive pest species.
- Peppers - A total of 232 acres representing eight different locations in four counties were surveyed during the period of March-May 2006. Twenty-two plant and insect samples were submitted for identification and all were negative for targeted invasive pest species.
- Tile Import Warehouses - Because of a 2001 study which found that a large "interception gap" of approximately 78% occurs between what pests are found versus what pests actually exist in the environs, CAPS managers studied import records and predicted that because of the wooden pallets used to transport tiles, foreign pests could likely be found in warehouses receiving and storing these tiles. In early 2004, a four-month survey of 67 Florida warehouses storing imported Italian tiles, as well as the nearby areas, was conducted. The wooden pallets storing the tiles were of particular interest since they can transport pests, particularly beetles and snails: 271 specimens were collected, 21 of which were new pests previously unknown in Florida. This survey is is being conducted again with national cooperation by USDA-CAPS and under modified procedures as the Solid Wood Packing Materials Survey (see below) during 2007. During March of 2008, CAPS Pest Survey Specialists inspected a few select warehouses in Orange and Broward Counties. In April of 2008, most of the Florida CAPS team will travel to and conduct an intensive two-week survey of tile warehouses in South Florida, and will be joined in a cooperative effort by the USDA Detector Dog Program.
- Solid Wood Packing Materials - The objective of this CAPS initiative is to survey and monitor the environs in and around our international air and sea ports that pose the greatest risk of entry and establishment of exotic invasive wood boring insects into Florida via solid wood packing materials (SWPM). The growing risk of introduction of invasive exotic insect pests via SWPM into the United States poses a significant threat to our agricultural and natural forestry resources. This risk and Florida's ideal environmental conditions and many international air and sea ports as introduction pathways prompted Florida's CAPS program to initiate an evaluation and monitoring of SWPM introductions of exotic pests.
SWPM, such as wood crates, are often constructed from raw wood, which may include bark and have been shown repeatedly to harbor insect pests from countries of origin which then transport and introduce the pests into the country of destination. SWPM are frequently made from low-quality trees which have been damaged by pests which are still present in the wood. Sometimes these insects may be detected in the receiving warehouses and distribution centers prior to being introduced into the environment. Unfortunately, in recent years several exotic pests, such as the pine shoot borer and the Sirex wood wasp, are associated with SWPM and have become widely distributed and established in states with appropriate tree hosts. Transport of exotic pests can also occur accidentally by campers transporting firewood from one county or state to another within the U.S. Please see our Firewood Web Page for more information, and view or download these materials: CAPS "Protect The Trees You Love" firewood brochure | CAPS "Protect the Trees You Love - Don't Move Firewood" poster | CAPS "Don't Give Bugs A Safe Harbor" poster .
Forestry in Florida is a complex and integrated network of natural resource enterprises valued at approximately $8.5 billion per year. Florida's forest industries produce products such as lumber, plywood, pulp, paper containers, plastics, medicines, flavors and fragrances ( http://www.florida-agriculture.com/agfacts.htm ). In addition to this industry, there are 33 State Forests covering over one million acres, three National Forests covering approximately 1.15 million acres, and countless trees on lands of businesses, parks, and residences. Thus, there are many reasons to keep invasive exotic insects and diseases out of Florida.
Some insects of concern are the emerald ash borer (EAB), citrus longhorned beetle (CLHB), Sirex woodwasp, and redbay ambrosia beetle (RBA), along with several others that are associated with SWPM.
CAPS is currently monitoring Florida's major international air and sea ports with 61 traps located in 5- and 10-mile environs buffer zones for Sirex woodwasp and other insects associated with SWPM. This survey will continue throughout 2007.
- Rice cutworm (Spodoptera litura) - Although this pest is not known to occur in Florida, the rice cutworm (also called the cluster caterpillar), is of serious concern to agriculture because it eats nearly any herbaceous plant, including lettuce, cabbage, peanuts, cotton, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, and even some non-herbaceous plants such as orchids and other crop trees. In August 2004, pheromone traps were set up at locations in various nurseries and also in the vicinity of growers in the Homestead area (Dade County). All samples were submitted to the USDA Eastern Region Entomologist Identifier in Gainesville and no rice cutworm or S. littoralis (Egyptian cotton leafworm) was found. In 2005 and 2006, other high-risk sites in Dade, Orange, and Lake Counties were monitored regularly, and all proved negative for the rice cutworm and the Egyptian cotton leafworm. In late 2007, a research trap at a nursery in Homestead (Miami-Dade County) captured a single specimen of Spodoptera litura. An intense delimiting survey based on the Incident Command System (ICS) model was implemented immediately by CAPS. Within a month, over 130 bucket traps were placed in a 9-square-mile grid around the original find. After 10 weeks of trapping, over 7,000 Spodoptera specimens were collected, examined, and identified. No new rice cutworm specimen was found, and all of the Spodoptera moths collected were native species known to occur in Florida. Subsequently, all but 20 of the traps were taken down, and the USDA and CAPS will continue to monitor the remaining traps in these areas for the forseeable future.
Additionally, in 2007, by request of the US Potato Industry, and in cooperation with the USDA, CAPS team members conducted extensive Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) surveys in 4 Florida counties (St. Johns, Manatee, Lee, and Collier), representing 18% of Florida's commercial potato production acreage. Results as of July 2007 show that no PCN has been found. For more information on the PCN Survey methodology and results to date, please download the 2007 Florida CAPS PCN Survey Interim Report .
- Channeled Apple Snail (CAS) - In June 2003, thousands of these mollusks were discovered in Zephryhills, Florida. They had apparently arrived in 2002 during a rise in nearby lake water levels. After an investigation, CAPS discovered that the CAS was already well established in South and Central Florida, Tallahassee, and many other areas supplied with adequate waterways. Causes for concern include transmission of rat lungworm parasite to humans, ecological freshwater plant impact, extreme nuisance factor (slime trails and huge masses of bright pink eggs), and invasion and replacement of the native Florida spike topped applesnail. The Everglades kite (a type of hawk) depends on the native snail for its principal food source and will not eat the exotic CAS. For more information on the CAS, see a Map of CAS locations in Florida and a Map of CAS locations in the US .
- Lobate Lac Scale (LLS) - Paratachardina lobata lobata (Chamberlin)(lobate lac scale or LLS), is a destructive exotic scale insect that is known to seriously damage or kill over 120 host trees and shrubs, 39 of which are Florida natives. Currently, little is known of its biology or control methods. LLS was first found in Miami-Dade County in 1999. By 2000, it had spread to four locations, and by 2001 it had spread to eighteen locations. In 2002, CAPS conducted a delimiting survey and found LLS in 98 locations in areas as far north as Palm Beach County, as far south as Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County and as far west as Hendry County. In 2003, CAPS surveyed several counties in South Florida by ground and by helicopter finding LLS in 225 locations as far west as Sanibel, as far north as the Martin/St. Lucie County line and as far south as Cudjoe Key. Researchers have now calculated that the LLS is spreading at a rate of approximately 13 miles per year, and could spread faster if hurricanes and other transporting forces intervene. For more information, please visit the DPI - Lobate Lac Scale Web Page.
- Giant African Land Snail (GALS) - Prolific, voracious, and adaptive, the GALS overwhelms ecosystems in a few years and can also transmit diseases and parasites (including the rat lungworm, which causes blindness and death) to humans. Inspectors intercepted 823 of these mollusks at ports in Florida during the period 1985-2002. Because GALS are now established in the Caribbean, the CAPS Program has included them on a permanent pest watch list, especially at ports, airlines, and in the pet trade. In 2004, an additional detection effort was conducted in Florida primarily through outreach programs in the public school system, and no GALS was found. For more information, go to the DPI - Giant African Land Snail Web Site.
- Soybean Rust (SBR) - Initial surveys of Florida were conducted in 2002 by DPI. In 2003, 93 sites were visited weekly by CAPS pest survey specialists. All were found negative for the SBR fungus. In 2004 it appears that Hurricane Ivan spread SBR spores it carried from South America all across NW Florida and the SE United States. In November 2004, SBR was detected for the first time in Florida in Gadsden County, and, by the end of the year it had been detected in 16 more counties on the common invasive weed kudzu. By the end of 2005, a total of 23 Florida counties were positive for SBR on either kudzu, soybean, or both. In 2006, the USDA and UF-IFAS in Florida took over responsibility for monitoring and detection of SBR. For more information, go to the CAPS - Soybean Rust Web Site or visit the USDA Soybean Rust Web Site for current survey information.
- Citrus Greening (CG or huanglongbing) - is caused by a bacterium (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus) which is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP or Diaphorina citri) insect. CG is a major cause of citrus crop and tree loss in countries where the disease is present. There is no cure for a tree with CG. Once infected by CG, a tree declines and dies within a few years, all the while producing lopsided, inedible fruit. Since the Asian citrus psyllid is well established in Florida, CAPS conducted surveys for CG in 2003 and 2004 which proved negative. In August 2005, the survey team discovered CG on two citrus trees in Miami-Dade County. After laboratory confirmation of the disease, a large cooperative survey effort combining personnel from CAPS, DPI and USDA began an overall survey of Miami-Dade County to discover how far the disease might have spread. In September, the survey found CG in Broward County, and as of July 2007, CG has been found in 24 counties including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, Hendry, St. Lucie, Monroe, Sarasota, Highlands, Collier, DeSoto, Lee, Brevard, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Glades, Okeechobee, Manatee, Volusia, Seminole, Osceola, Marion, Hardee, and Orange counties. Grove owners and homeowners are strongly encouraged to remove positive trees. Meanwhile, state and federal officials and scientists are investigating effective ways to control CG and the ACP as well as how to preserve the Florida citrus industry. For more information, visit the DPI - Citrus Greening Web Site and watch the DPI - Citrus Greening Disease video.
- Sudden Oak Death (SOD) - Phytophthora ramorum, a fungus, is responsible for causing SOD. SOD is not harmful to humans or animals, but is a serious fungal disease that may be deadly to certain oaks and other hardwoods, and also adversely affects other plants including camellias, rhododendrons and viburnums. In 2004, SOD was confirmed in several locations in California, and Florida immediately inspected its nurseries, halted the importation of all nursery stock from California, and issued a stop sale order on imported affected plants. The Florida CAPS team assisted in the initial nursery inspections. Six nursery locations were found with infected California plants, and the material was appropriately contained and destroyed. State Inspectors continue to monitor several locations. Please visit the DPI - Sudden Oak Death Web Site for more information.
- Gladiolus Rust (Uromyces transversalis) - Gladiolus rust (GR) is an economically important rust fungus. On April 7, 2006, Hawaii reported GR on flowers shipped from a flower farm in Manatee county. On April 12, 2006, the USDA confirmed the presence of GR at the Manatee farm, and subsequently issued an EAN prohibiting further shipments on April 17. Initial delimiting surveys of the surrounding areas were conducted by teams from state and federal stakeholders. CAPS Pest Survey Specialists took part in the initial delimiting survey April 24-25 2006 and were successful in finding more GR positive areas. Subsequent surveys of the area have been conducted by the USDA and the Florida Department of Agriculture and have shown this outbreak to be limited in scope to locations at two gladiolus farms, which subsequently underwent extensive eradication measures, however, another outbreak occurred at the same location in late 2007-early 2008. Please visit the DPI - Gladiolus Rust Pest Alert Web Site for more information.
- Rice Panicle Mite - For the past forty years the Rice Panicle Mite, Steneotarsonemus spinki, has been considered a serious rice pest in China, Philippines and Taiwan, where it has caused substantial crop losses. Yield losses can range from 30 to 90%. In 1997 this pest began showing up in the Caribbean region, and in the past ten years has been reported in Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The mite was reported in Central America in 2002, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and in 2005, in South America in Colombia. Recent reports also indicate Mexico. In the past ten years, interceptions of regulatory significance have been reported in greenhouses in Ohio and Texas. In Florida, CAPS managers are preparing plans for a possible 2008 survey in order to monitor for this pest.
Last updated: April 10, 2008
All photos are from the Florida CAPS archives unless otherwise noted.
Photos of red palm mite, palettes, swpm inspection, and GALS courtesy of USDA-APHIS.
Photo of SOD courtesy of www.invasive.org.
Photo of cluster caterpillar courtesy of www.eppo.org.
Photo of LBAM courtesy of Todd Gilligan (http://www.tortricidae.com/lbam), 2007.