The City of Marco Island’s City Manager, Dr. James Riviere, has authorized emergency funds to inoculate city-owned trees due to the critical nature of the infestation of the pest, Rugose Spiraling Whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus). Recognizing the current state of the infestation, a workshop was hosted by the City last month which included a presentation by expert entomologist, Dr. Doug Caldwell, PhD, University of Florida-IFAS Extension (UF-IFAS), Collier County. The large attendance to the workshop by residents and contractors alike reflects the awareness and concern of the outbreak of this pest in the landscape on the island.
The City’s Beautification Advisory Committee has also been monitoring City trees and recommending the most cost effective and best remedy for treatment to prevent the spread of the infestation throughout the city-owned trees.
Prioritizing the inoculation is as follows: the Collier Blvd. city-owned trees, both palms and canopy species, will be inoculated initially, then the Veterans Park trees, then all other city-owned trees. In concordance with the city-owned trees inoculation program, the City recommends residents to use professional landscapers to evaluate their property trees for the pest and treat accordingly.
Rugose Spiraling Whitefly is a slow moving, approximately 2.5 mm in size insect that has infested south Florida. There are now documented up to 90 host trees, palms and canopy species, for the pest. The two prevalent tell-tale signs that a tree is infested are easy to find. First, underneath the leaf or frond of the tree: a distinctive spiral pattern of white, waxy tracts are present. This is the path of the whitefly’s egg deposits. The other evidence of infestation is the presence of black, sooty mold on shrubs, driveways, docks, chairs, boats or anything that is under a tree. This whitefly species secretes sugary honeydew (liquid waste) that attracts and is colonized by a black fungus called sooty mold. Items under the infested tree will be covered with black sooty mold. This has been seen on shrubs, sidewalks, docks and cars on the island.
For more information, please contact Nancy Richie, Environmental Specialist, City of Marco Island at 239-389-5003, [email protected] or visit the Collier County Extension UF-IFAS website, http://collier.ifas.ufl.edu. Videos, photos and additional information on identification and treatment are available.
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