Archive for December, 2011

IFAS / PB County Environmental Horticulture

** Please note, this blog is no longer being updated, but will remain active for informational purposes.**

For more information about IFAS / Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension, please visit

This page was developed by Laura Sanagorski, past Environmental Horticulture Extension Faculty, UF / IFAS Palm Beach County Extension, to provide green industry professionals with the latest research in the horticulture field: pests, diseases, landscape issues, as well as educational and CEU opportunities.

GI-BMP Training 2012

As a reminder to all green industry professionals ~ Beginning on January 1, 2014, all commercial fertilizer applicators will be required to hold a Limited Certification for Urban Fertilizer Applicators, issued by the State of Florida’s Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control.  The prerequisite of this license is the successful completion of the Green Industry Best Management Practices, or GI-BMP program.  

GI-BMPs teach safe landscaping practices that protect the environment, including our ground and surface waters.  The University of Florida IFAS Florida Friendly Landscaping™  program presents GI-BMP programs throughout the state.  

In 2012, the GI-BMP program will be offered by Palm Beach County on the following dates:

  •  January 24, Boca Raton
  • March 9, West Palm Beach *en español 
  • March 22, West Palm Beach
  • May 15, West Palm Beach
  • June 15, West Palm Beach *en español 
  • September 13, West Palm Beach
  • October 19, West Palm Beach *en español 
  • October 23, Boca Raton
  • November 8, West Palm Beach

Corporate, governmental, environmental, and other personnel should attend the GI-BMP program, which was developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and is endorsed by the pest control industry.

To attend classes or learn more, see the 2012 GI-BMP Brochure.  GI-BMP training is also available online.  More information is  available on the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ website. 

Call 561.233.1725 with any questions you may have.

Algal Leaf Spot

Algal Leaf Spot <UF Laura Sanagorski>

An excessively rainy fall has  created the perfect opportunity for a number of our leaf spots and fungal diseases to make an appearance. This is Algal Leaf Spot, and this week I’ve seen it on Sausage Tree, Firebush, Cocoplum, and some other ornamentals.   It seems to be more prevalent than some previous years.

Algal Leaf Spot is predominantly an aesthetic issue, and it doesn’t often warrant treatment, although it can be managed with fungicides if necessary.  The spots are caused by an algae and start out a rusty color which gradually fades to grey.  We see Algal Leaf Spot in late summer and most of the fall, so it should be subsiding before too long.

Algal Leaf Spot: New rust-colored spots (above) fade to grey (below) <UF Laura Sanagorski>

Beneficial Insect to Veggie Pests – Cotesia congregatus

Cotesia congregatus Parasitoid Cocoons on Hornworm *Click for detail* > UF Laura Sanagorski<

I like to stress how nature tends to find a balance without our help, such as in the case of pest and beneficial insects.  The photo on the left is an example of the beneficial Cotesia congregatus wasp’s activity on tomato hornworm.  If you or your customers grow tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.,  you know this hornworm can be really destructive.

The Cotesia congregatus wasp helps to keep hornworm populations in check.  This insect is part of the Braconid family, which is made up of over 1000 species of tiny wasps that pose no threat to humans.  Insects in this family act as parasitoids, which are organisms that spend most of their life attached in some way to their hosts, which will eventually die.  Wasps in this family are excellent biological control options for a number of harmful caterpillars, aphids, and other landscape pests.

Cotesia congregatus Parasitoid Cocoons on Hornworm *Click for detail* > UF Laura Sanagorski<

The lifecycle of the Cotesia congregatus is pretty interesting.  The wasp lays its eggs just under the skin of the hormworm.  When larvae emerge, they begin feeding on the insides of the hormworm, essentially eating it alive.  When the juvenile wasps have matured, they eat through the skin of the hornworm, and spin their cocoons.  In the picture above, you can see that most of the adults have emerged through the tops of the cocoons.  Although the hornworm won’t do much damage to plants throughout the  whole process, it will finally die after the adult wasps emerge.  The wasps will then mate and seek out other hormworms to attack.

Only 0.6% of all insects in the United States are considered pests.  Most insects are beneficial, or at least harmless to us, such as in the case of this braconid wasp.  This is good reason to apply pesticides responsibly.  If you see signs of this wasp on properties you manage, take care not to disturb them.


Do You Need CEUs?

With the new year approaching, it may be a good time to look at your various industry licenses and certifications to determine what CEUs you may need to keep them current.  The upcoming 2012 Master Landscape Management Course is offering a number of  CEUs at a minimal cost!

CEU offerings for the eight week program are as follows:

  • International Society of Arboriculture (ISA): 0.75 – 3 CEUs each day / all categories
  • Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA): 4 CEUs each day
  • Landscape Inspectors’ Association of Florida (LIAF): 1 CEU each day
  • Pesticide Applicators: 3-4 CEUs each day / Core, Private Applicator, Natural Areas, Ornamental & Turf, Limited Lawn & Ornamental, Commercial Lawn & Ornamental, & Limited Landscape Maintenance categories available

See the attached brochure for details. 2012 Master Landscape Management Brochure.

Master Landscape Management. UF Laura Sanagorski

Questions can be directed to Laura Sanagorski, Environmental Horticulture Extension Faculty, by e-mailing or calling 561.233.1748.

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly Adult, Juvenile, and Egg Stages. Click on photo for detail. UF Laura Sanagorski

As I write this article there are a number of Rugose Spiraling Whiteflies flying all over my office.  Although I’ve had samples coming across my desk for over a year, I still can’t get over how big these whiteflies are compared to the Ficus  and Bemisia – almost three times bigger.

HOSTS. This Whitefly was originally called the Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly, because we thought it was only going to feed and reproduce on that tree.  Unfortunately, we were wrong: the Spiraling Whitefly (now renamed Rugose) has a broad list of hosts, which seems to grow by the day.  The preferred hosts are Gumbo Limbo, White Bird of Paradise, Coconut Palm, Black Olive, Live Oak, and others.

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly. UF Laura Sanagorski

LIFECYCLE. The adult lays eggs in a telltale spiral pattern on the undersides of the leaves.  As with the other whiteflies, it is the young insects that cause the damage through their feeding activities.  The young stages of this insect feed on a plant’s fluids with piercing/sucking mouthparts (which causes stress to the shrub or tree).  A secondary problem is that feeding activities produce a sticky substance (called honeydew) which supports the growth of sooty mold and may cause a mess, especially if there are cars, sidewalks, etc., below.

LOCATION.  As of now, I’ve seen this spiraling whitefly throughout the entire Palm Beach county.  It has also been identified all over Broward and Miami Dade Counties for some time now.  

TREATMENT. Systemic insecticides in the neonicotinoid family are very effective against the Rugose Spiraling Whitefly.  We’ve seen some great results with basal bark and injection treatments.  Horticultural soaps and oils will reduce whitefly populations as well.

MORE INFORMATION. Please see Dr. Catharine Mannion’s factsheet on Rugose Spiraling Whitefly or Rugose Spiraling Whitefly Treatment in the Landscape power point presentation for more detail and for a list of recommended products.  Please continue to watch the IFAS Palm Beach County Extension: Environmental Horticulture blog and the Palm Beach County Whitefly Task Force website  for updates on everything related to whiteflies.

Do you maintain a Florida-Friendly Community of Excellence?

Do you maintain a Community of Excellence?  I work with a number of green industry professionals who do.  Why not get some recognition for Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices?

Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices, such as choosing the "Right Plant for the Right Place", might make your landscape projects in multifamily communities eligible for recognition! UF Laura Sanagorski

The 2012 The Florida Communities of Excellence Award represents the pinnacle of achievement for community associations in our state.  This award is the only comprehensive, independent recognition program for the tens of thousands of community associations throughout Florida.  For you, as green industry professionals, this award would be a point of pride for your business!

There are ten categories, with one being Florida-Friendly Landscaping.  If you work for or in a multifamily community and want to show off what you’ve done, I encourage you to apply.  The deadline for nominations is January 15, 2012.  Nominations are taken online here.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Laura Sanagorski, your Environmental Horticulture extension agent, for information on Florida Friendly Landscaping.