FDACS discovers palm mite in Florida
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Wednesday the red palm mite, a dangerous agricultural pest originally found in the Caribbean islands, has been discovered and confirmed in Florida.
The FDACS said the insect attacks coconut, areca palm and date palms. It has also been found in the Middle East and subtropical regions throughout the Eastern Hemisphere.
“While we are disappointed to find the red palm mite in Florida, we are not surprised,” FDACS Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. “We have been surveying for the pest for over a year because of its growing prevalence in the Caribbean over the last few years.'
By last year the pest had been confirmed in the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin and Trinidad Tobago, St. Lucia and Dominica. In 2007 the U.S. Virgin Islands, Granada, Haiti, Jamaica and Venezuela have been added to the list of islands and countries infested with the red palm mite. In all instances, this mite has established itself on various palms, with significant outbreaks on coconut palms. In addition, infestations have been observed on banana and plantain species on most islands with additional infestations observed on heliconias, gingers, bird of paradise and screw pine.
Bronson said pesticides can control the mite. Some are available from the federal government, and the State of Florida plans to develop a pesticide to help destroy the mite, as well.
Florida palms are shipped to many U.S. locations, and are also exported to many nations