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Invasive insect species discovered in Pinellas Co.; poses huge threat to crops

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Posted at 10:18 AM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 10:18:30-04

An invasive insect species has been discovered in Pinellas County and it poses a major threat to homeowners and commercial growers in the area. 

The Q-biotype whitefly has also been reported in at least seven Florida counties and agriculture experts believe the whitefly population could become serious as their population starts to increase. 

If not controlled, the whitefly could destroy crops including tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons and other fruits and vegetables grown in Florida. 

State officials are asking consumers to inspect any new plants for the species before you buy them or plant them in your gardens. When you're out landscaping, be on the lookout for the whiteflies. 

If you discover whiteflies in your garden or on your crops, you are urged to call the Extension office at 727-582-2100 and to bring the insects to the extension office at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo. Their office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m to 5 p.m.

There are a few things to keep in mind when bringing the damaged crops or specimens to the 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

How to control the population:

  • use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils

For more information, please visit the Pinellas County website: www.pinellascounty.org