Florida has the most invasive species of any state in the country, and half of the insects, reptiles, arachnids and crustaceans imported into the United States come through Florida ports, that’s according to researchers at the University of Florida. So, in an effort to identify invasive insects before they become prolific, UF/IFAS has created the Florida First Detectors program. The idea is to train stakeholders like Florida Master Gardeners, nursery managers, and farmers to identify invasive pests. We’re joined by Dr. Amanda Hodges, a UF/IFAS Extension scientist and co-author of a new invasive insects identification guide to learn more about the program and how people can get involved. We're also joined by Ian Bartoszek, Wildlife Biologist/Science Coordinator with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to talk about his work with invasive reptiles like Burmese Pythons and the Argentine Black and White Tegu. And we'll learn more about FGCU's Campus Naturalist program with student Shawn Brunelle.
Dr. Hodges’ new Identification Guide to Florida’s Invasive Plant Pests is full of information and photographs of invasive plants. It’s available at the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore. Members of the public who want to report the location of potentially invasive pests can do so at their UF/IFAS Extension county office, or they can send them to the UF/IFAS entomology insect identification lab.