Tag Archive: Look

Look Who Is Enjoying the Beach This Spring… An Alligator!

Look Who Is Enjoying the Beach This Spring… An Alligator!

I received a call the week before Earth Day to let me know that an alligator was laying on Pensacola Beach, on the Gulf side, near the gate to Ft. Pickens. This is certainly not something you see every day.

Alligator basking on the Escambia River; photo: Molly O’Connnor

Two questions came up…

One, Is this weird?

Two, Can alligators tolerate salt water?

Let us start with question 1 – is this weird?

Actually, it is not as weird as you may think. Alligators have been found on barrier islands of the northern Gulf of Mexico for decades.  I myself have seen them at Big Sabine (though it has been many years since I saw one).  As a student at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, we found them on Dauphin Island and on Petit Bois Island in Mississippi; I am sure they are on Horn Island in Mississippi as well.  It is listed on the Gulf Islands National Seashore guide as one of the animals you may encounter in the park.  They have been reported in the dune lakes of Walton County, and I have seen them at St. Andrew’s State Park in Panama City.  So yea, they are found in our coastal areas – even the barrier islands.  However, they do prefer the freshwater bodies of water on these islands.  Which brings up the second question…

 

 

Question 2 – can they tolerate salt water?

The quick answer is yes, for a period. There are several reptiles in Florida that can tolerate periods of seawater. Those who spend long periods in brackish to marine waters have lachrymal glands to remove and excrete salt from their blood stream.  This keeps the cells of their body in a more “fresh” environment and thus, can tolerate salt water for longer periods.  Marine turtles, the most salt tolerant of all reptiles, excrete this salt through these glands located near their eyes.  This gives them the appearance of “tears” or “crying” when they are on land.  They are actually secreting salt from their body.

 

Alligators do not have well developed lachrymal glands. However, their tough skin is impermeable to absorbing seawater.  They have thinner areas of skin where saltwater can enter and of course they can swallow seawater.  Because of this, they cannot tolerate seawater very long and must eventually return to freshwater.

 

Alligators, like most Florida reptiles, do have to bask on land to warm their bodies in the morning. This is needed for proper digestion as well as other functions.  It is also another way that alligators can avoid salty water for periods of time.  I understand the alligator still had the faint yellow cross bands on its tail, indicating a younger animal, who may have wondered into the wrong location.

 

As far as being a danger to humans, you have to “read” the animal. Wild alligators have a natural fear of humans and would prefer to avoid us.  According to the FWC, there have been 388 alligator attacks on Floridians since 1948, about 6 per year.  263 of those were considered “major” attacks, about 3 per year.  24 were fatal, about 0.4 per year (1 every 3 years).  Wild alligators can be a problem if

  1. The animal is very large – it will consider larger prey like humans
  2. Attacking a pet (even on a leash) and indirectly attacking the pet owner
  3. Swimming in bodies of water with large alligators, especially at night (when they most often feed)
  4. The person was near a nest or young – alligators are very defensive of their young and nest

Any alligator can become a problem when fed. They lose their natural fear of humans and see us as a source of easy food – though they more often go after our pets, which are easier; they are more willing to approach us looking for an opportunity.  Thus, is against Florida law to feed alligators.

 

I am not sure whether the alligator seen that week was acting aggressively or not but certainly could have been a problem. A “nuisance” alligator is defined by FWC as one being larger than four feet and acting aggressively towards humans or pets.  If this is the case, they have a team of trappers who will come to collect the animal.  It is not recommended that individuals try to capture these animals.  As with snakes, many people bitten by alligators were trying to either catch them or kill them.  It is best to leave this to the professionals.

 

Though it is a bit nerve racking to see an alligator on the beach, they are part of Florida’s environment. Like sharks swimming along our shores, alligators should not be approached but rather contact a local authority to alert them of the possible danger.

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/29/look-who-is-enjoying-the-beach-this-spring-an-alligator/

Look More Deeply for Causes of Leaf Wilt

Look More Deeply for Causes of Leaf Wilt

Leaf wilt may indicate more than just dry soil. Photo by Beth Bolles

Leaf wilt may indicate more than just dry soil. Photo by Beth Bolles

Plants have specific ways of telling gardeners that there is a problem, but not all plant symptoms lead us directly to the cause. During drier conditions, we often use wilting leaves as an indicator that water is needed.  This can be a reliable symptom that the soil is lacking moisture but it is not always the case.  Wilting leaves and herbaceous branches actually tell us that there is not adequate water in the plant.  It does not necessarily indicate lack of moisture in the soil.

There can be many reasons why water is not being absorbed by roots and moved to tissues in the plant. The obvious place to start is by checking soil moisture.  If soil is powdery several inches deep around the plant, water is likely needed. However, if you ball the soil up in your hand and it holds together, there may be another reason for lack of water reaching the upper plant parts.  The harder part is determining why the root system is not taking up water.  Causes can be a rotted root system from too much water, a poorly developed root ball that has circling or kinked roots, and even problems in the soil such as compaction.  Insects, diseases, and other pathogens can also injure root systems preventing the uptake of water.

Too much water can cause roots to decay, preventing the uptake of water. Photo by Beth Bolles

Too much water can cause roots to decay, preventing the uptake of water. Photo by Beth Bolles

So before automatically grabbing the hose or turning on the sprinkler, do a little soil investigation to make sure that the plant wilt is really indicating lack of water in the soil. If you need help in your diagnosis, always contact your local Extension office.

PG

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/22/look-more-deeply-for-causes-of-leaf-wilt/

Look What’s Blooming Now!

Look What’s Blooming Now!

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

When many of our summer blooming plants start fading, yellow cassia, Senna bicapsularis, becomes a show stopper. Late fall and early winter is when it blooms and dazzles. The bright yellow flowers appear in numerous clusters at the tips of this many branched shrub. This makes for a stunning display in sunny areas of the landscape.

Yellow cassia grows to 8 to 12 feet in height and at least twice that in width. In the panhandle it often freezes back when we have a harsh winter. If that happens, prune it to the ground and it will come back the following spring and regain its previous size and beauty by late fall when it is ready to bloom. An advantage is that it is moderately drought and salt tolerant.

The flowers are attractive to bees for pollen although they are not attractive to butterflies as the flowers don’t produce much, if any, nectar. Yellow cassia serves as a host plant for some lovely butterflies. The cloudless sulphur, orange-barred sulphur and the sleepy orange all use cassia to rear their caterpillars. The shrub will rarely be heavily affected by a little herbivory from their caterpillars and will recover to bring you a stunning display the following year.

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

If you purchase a yellow cassia, check out the botanical name. Senna bicapsularis is what you want and not Senna pendula var. glabra which is a listed invasive plant species for central and south Florida.

For more information on Florida gardening:

UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/07/look-whats-blooming-now/

Cotton Marketing News: A Look Back at 2015 and Ahead to 2016

Cotton Marketing News:  A Look Back at 2015 and Ahead to 2016

Shurley 1-13-16 headerThe New Year has not started off well for cotton. Old crop March futures currently stand at roughly 62 cents and new crop December futures at roughly 63 cents—both down 2 to 3 cents from the most recent high.

On the decline, cotton prices reached the lowest levels since October. This raises concerns, as it should, but this recent decline is likely short-term. That doesn’t mean the outlook is rosy; it just means the market can likely recover this 2 to 3 cents.

Concerns about the global economy, China, and related losses in the US stock market drove cotton prices down. Prices have since tried to recover somewhat but slowly. The upward trend we’ve been in since October has now been broken (see charts). So, there’s work to do to repair last week’s damage.Shurley March futures 1

USDA released its January production and supply/demand figures yesterday. The 2015 US crop was lowered slightly to 12.94 million bales. US mill use was lowered 100K bales from 3.7 to 3.6 million bales. US ending stocks were raised by 100K bales.

As expected, 2015 foreign production was lowered roughly 2 million bales. The China and India crops were each lowered ½ million bales and the Pakistan crop was lowered 800K bales.

World mill use for the 2015-16 marketing year was lowered 450K bales. This makes the seventh consecutive month that World use has been revised downward and use (demand) now stands at only .5% above (or essentially unchanged) from the 2014 crop year and still less than 1% above the 2013 crop year.Shurley Dec Futures 2Demand growth, or this lack of it, is going to be a key factor in the 2016 crop price outlook. There is already a belief among many in the industry that US cotton acreage will increase this year. Compared to 8.58 million acres planted last year, early expectations for this year range from 9 to over 10 million acres.

For the US cotton grower, relative prices for alternative crops are not as favorable compared to cotton as in 2015. Also, for peanut growers, acreage expanded in 2015 but may not be sustained for 2016 due to rotation constraints.

If US and World area and production increase in 2016, this will place price direction squarely on the shoulders of demand. That seems to be a risky proposition at this juncture given the aforementioned downward revisions in demand this season.

Of course, acreage harvested and yields are more critical than acres planted. US yield was down in 2015 compared to 2013 and ’14 but abandonment was very low at only 6%.

For the 2015 crop, US cotton benefited from a strong basis and good premiums for fiber quality. This was important for profitability and will be important for 2016, when considering alternative net returns and what to plant. There are no guarantees that strong basis and quality premiums will continue, but it is something to consider. Both yield and fiber quality are important goals to shoot for.

Changes in STAX are forthcoming and any other policy changes, such as the cottonseed designation for ARC/PLC if implemented, will also come into play for 2016.

Cotton News Sponsor

Don Shurley, University of Georgia
229-386-3512 / donshur@uga.edu

 

PG

Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/16/cotton-marketing-news-a-look-back-at-2015-and-ahead-to-2016/

Identify Cogongrass Now – Look for the Seedheads

Identify Cogongrass Now – Look for the Seedheads

Cogongrass seedheads are easily spotted this time of year.  Photo credit: Mark Mauldin

Cogongrass seedheads are easily spotted this time of year.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

We are well into spring and a wide variety of plants are showing off their colorful blooms. As lovely as most of the blooms are, some springtime colors are an unwelcome sight. Such is the case with the showy, white seedhead that is produced by Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). The presence of Cogongrass – a highly aggressive, invasive, perennial – in Florida is not news; it has been in Florida since at least the 1930’s. However, the white seedhead that it produces in the spring makes it easier to locate and identify. When the seedhead is not present, the somewhat boring looking grass has the ability to blend in with its surroundings. This makes it harder for un-expecting landowners to identify the new/small infestations which are much easier to eliminate than are larger, well established infestations.

Cogongrass seedhead close-up. While cogongrass speads primarily by rhizomes the seedheads can make new infestations easier to find. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

While cogongrass spreads primarily by rhizomes the seedheads can make new infestations easier to find.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Controlling cogongrass is not easy but it is necessary. If left uncontrolled cogongrass will continue to aggressively spread, displacing other desirable vegetation. Generally speaking, control is a multi-year process. Because the specific recommendations for controlling cogongrass can vary somewhat by situation it is highly advisable that you contact a UF/IFAS Extension Agent in your county if you suspect that you have cogongrass on your property.

The following description of cogongrass from UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants should help you identify cogongrass, even if the seedheads are gone.

“Cogongrass is a perennial that varies greatly in appearance. The leaves appear light green, with older leaves becoming orange-brown in color. In areas with killing frosts, the leaves will turn light brown during winter months and present a substantial fire hazard. Cogongrass grows in loose to compact bunches, each ‘bunch’ containing several leaves arising from a central area along a rhizome. The leaves originate directly from ground level and range from one to four feet in length. Each leaf is 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide with a prominent, off-center, white mid-rib. The leaf margins are finely serrated; contributing to the undesirable forage qualities of this grass. Seed production predominately occurs in the spring, with long, fluffy-white seedheads. Mowing, burning or fertilization can also induce sporadic seedhead formation. Seeds are extremely small and attached to a plume of long hairs.”

This is the time of year when cogongrass is the easiest to identify. Take advantage of this opportunity to locate new infestations and work with your county agent to develop a control plan. Once a plan is in place, follow it to the end. Stopping after the first year will practically ensure that control will not be achieved.

A relatively new patch of cogongrass recently found in Washington County. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

A relatively new patch of cogongrass recently found in Washington County.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

More information on cogongrass can be found by following the links below

PG

Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/10/identify-cogongrass-now-look-for-the-seedheads-2/

Identify Cogongrass Now: Look for the Seedheads

Cogongrass seadheads are easily spotted this time of year. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Cogongrass seedheads are easily spotted this time of year.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

We are well into spring and a wide variety of plants are showing off their colorful blooms. As lovely as most of the blooms are, some springtime colors are an unwelcome sight. Such is the case with the showy, white seedhead that is produced by Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). The presence of Cogongrass – a highly aggressive, invasive, perennial – in Florida is not news; it has been in Florida since at least the 1930’s. However, the white seedhead that it produces in the spring makes it easier to locate and identify. When the seedhead is not present, the somewhat boring looking grass has the ability to blend in with its surroundings. This makes it harder for un-expecting landowners to identify the new, small infestations which are much easier to eliminate than larger, well established infestations.

Cogongrass seadheads can help landowners identify new infestations. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Cogongrass seedheads can help landowners identify new infestations.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Controlling cogongrass is not easy but it is necessary. If left uncontrolled cogongrass will continue to aggressively spread, displacing other desirable vegetation. Generally speaking, control is a multi-year process. Because the specific recommendations for controlling cogongrass can vary somewhat by situation, it is highly advisable that you contact a UF/IFAS Extension Agent in your county if you suspect that you have cogongrass on your property.

The following description of cogongrass  should help you identify cogongrass, even if the seedheads are gone:

“Cogongrass is a perennial grass that varies greatly in appearance. The leaves appear light green, with older leaves becoming orange-brown in color. In areas with killing frosts, the leaves will turn light brown during winter months and present a substantial fire hazard. Cogongrass grows in loose to compact bunches, each ‘bunch’ containing several leaves arising from a central area along a rhizome. The leaves originate directly from ground level and range from one to four feet in length. Each leaf is 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide with a prominent, off-center, white mid-rib. The leaf margins are finely serrated; contributing to the undesirable forage qualities of this grass. Seed production predominately occurs in the spring, with long, fluffy-white seedheads. Mowing, burning or fertilization can also induce sporadic seedhead formation. Seeds are extremely small and attached to a plume of long hairs.”  UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

This is the time of year when cogongrass is the easiest to identify. Take advantage of this opportunity to locate new infestations and work with your county agent to develop a control plan. Once a plan is in place, follow it to the end. Stopping after the first year will practically ensure that control will not be achieved.

A relatively new patch of cogongrass recently found in Washington County. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

A relatively new patch of cogongrass recently found in Washington County.
Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Spot Treatment Control Options


More information on cogongrass can be found by following the links below

PG

Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/09/identify-cogongrass-now-look-for-the-seedheads/

Monensin Toxicity in Horses: What to Look For

dressage horseSeveral cases of monensin toxicity in horses have been reported in the Southeastern U.S. over that last few months.  Monensin is an ionophore antibiotic that is commonly added to livestock feeds such as poultry and cattle feeds.  This is a safe feed additive for ruminants and poultry, but horses are very sensitive to monensin.  Sometimes this additive can accidentally get mixed into equine feeds and the results can be deadly.  A lethal dose for horses is only about 1 gram for an average size horse.

Symptoms of monensin toxicity include poor appetite, colic, diarrhea, intermittent sweating, stiffness, and muscle weakness that progress to an abnormal gait.  Horses affected will also have increased heart and respiratory rates, low blood pressure, and increased urination.  Horses that ingest large amounts at one time can die within a few hours of eating contaminated feeds.  Monensin toxicity can cause damage to the heart that most often is permanent.

If you notice these symptoms in your horses, contact your local veterinarian immediately.  Suspected feed sources should be immediately removed,  and a sample collected to be sent to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Diagnostic Testing Lab for analysis.  Positive diagnosis is only possible through feed analysis or post-mortem examination.  There is no specific antidote for monensin toxicity, so prevention is key.

For more information about Monensin Toxicity, refer to Monensin and Lasalocid Toxicity in Horses by Dr. Amanda House, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

 

PG

Author: Jennifer Bearden – bearden@ufl.edu

Agriculture Agent Okaloosa County

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/02/07/monensin-toxicity-in-horses-what-to-look-for/

Look Out for Black Swallowtail Larvae in the Fall Herb Garden

Look Out for Black Swallowtail Larvae in the Fall Herb Garden

Second instar, Black Swallowtail larva. Image Credit Matthew orwat

Second instar, Black Swallowtail larva. Image Credit Matthew orwat

 

Busily devouring dill and fennel, the lime green, black striped caterpillars in the UF IFAS Extension Washington County Office have quickly become a popular attraction.  It is fortunate that the South’s climate is warm enough to allow for three generations of this species every year.

 

Larvae Busily Devouring Dill. Image Credit Matthew Orwat

Larvae Busily Devouring Dill. Image Credit Matthew Orwat

 Soon, the caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius ) butterfly species will continue their pupae stage by forming a chrysalis and emerging as one of Florida’s most recognized swallowtail butterflies. 

The chrysalis is formed by two glands located inside the caterpillar that secrete silk.  The silk threads stick together and harden when exposed to fresh air.  The hard, protective coating is usually camouflaged from predators and blends in with the environment.  Inside the chrysalis, the process of metamorphosis continues as the adult structure forms while the juvenile structure breaks down.  The insects are very inactive during this time as they grow and change.  This stage can last from two weeks to an entire season in temperate climates and tropical dry seasons.  When hormones indicate it’s ready, the butterfly emerges by splitting the chrysalis open either biting its way out or using spit to soften the ends.

 

 

Green Chrysalis. Image Credit Don Hall UF IFAS

Green Chrysalis. Image Credit Don Hall UF IFAS

The Black swallowtail has quite a heavy appetite for such a small creature.  They eat a variety of plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae) such as dill, fennel,  parsley, celery, and carrot leaf. In addition to these cultivated species, they will feast on mock bishopweed, roughfruit scaleseed, spotted water hemlock, water cowbane, and wedgeleaf eryngo. They have also been known to enjoy Common Rue (Ruta graveolens L.).

They exhibit several interesting behaviors throughout their life cycle. For example, when they feel threatened the Black Swallowtail larvae will exhibit yellow antennae-like structures called osmeterium. These flare out and emit a foul odor, like rotten cheese, if one’s finger gets too close.

Osmeterium on display. Image Cretid Matthew Orwat

Osmeterium on display. Image Credit Matthew Orwat

 

Even though they are voracious plant eaters and honorable defenders of their territory, butterflies play a vital role in agriculture by pollinating crops and flowers.  They’re an indicator of a healthy ecosystem; an abundance and diversity of butterfly species illustrate the overall health of an area.  With their acute sensitivity to contaminants and toxins, butterfly populations will not be found in polluted areas.  Recognized for their beauty, butterfly watching has also become a popular hobby and pastime. 

Photo courtesy of Donald Hall, University of Florida.

Photo courtesy of Donald Hall, University of Florida.

It’s never too early to think about planning a butterfly garden.  For more information on creating a backyard butterfly habitat, download this 4-H fact sheet for kids and parents.   For more information on this specific butterfly, visit the UF IFAS EDIS website for a publication on the Eastern Black Swallwtail.

Additional Content by:

Julie Pigott Dillard, Director, UF IFAS Extension Washington County

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/10/21/look-out-for-black-swallowtail-larvae-in-the-fall-herb-garden/