FDACS warns Caribbean mites may reach Florida
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued a warning that potentially dangerous red palm mites from the Caribbean islands may be migrating to Florida.
FDACS Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said that although the mite species has not reached the state, it is 'only a matter of time' before it does.
“Arrival of the red palm mite in Florida could threaten Florida’s vibrant ornamental palm industry,” Bronson said. “The department is aggressively surveying for this dangerous plant pest, and we are participating in joint programs with other agricultural organizations to delay its entry into the state and to develop control measures in the likely event of its appearance in our country.'
The red palm mite causes serious leaf damage, which ruins the ornamental value of palms, and some growers anticipate as much as a 50 percent loss in coconut production. Scientists observed that the mite has spread in the Caribbean to infest other exotic and ornamental plants, including banana and heliconia species.
The red palm mite was discovered three years ago on Martinique. It has since spread to St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Maarten, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the spread of the mites represents the biggest mite explosion ever observed in the Americas.