Friday, July 30, 2010

You can help control the mosquito population!

In light of several recent mosquito related stories in the news, it is important to discuss controlling mosquitoes around your home. If water collects in containers like empty pots, gutters, trash cans, and bird baths, in two to three days you may experience an increase in mosquitoes. There are about 70 species of mosquitoes in Florida. They breed in rain pools, floodwater, roadside puddles, and practically any temporary body of fresh water. Eggs are laid by female mosquitoes in dry areas and when it rains the eggs hatch into mosquito larva in the standing water. It only takes three days for the mosquito to become an adult. As little as a half-cup of water can breed enough mosquitoes to cause a problem. There are some helpful things you can do around your home before and after it rains to prevent mosquitoes from maturing:

-Remove or empty small containers, examples: paint buckets, toy buckets, aluminum cans.
-Cover or empty large containers, example: rain barrels, wheel barrels, kiddy pools.
-Change outside pet water bowls regularly.
-Flush bird baths every two days.
-Empty or flush plant saucers and rooting plants in jars.
-Cover or remove tires.
-Clean out gutters.
-Turn canoes and small boats over or cover them.
-Chlorinate swimming pools.
-Stock ornamental ponds with fish.
-Flush water from bromeliads or treat them every 30 days with Bt mosquito granules.
-Remove debris from ditches so the water can flow.
-Fill in any low spots in your yard, if possible.

If everyone in our community would do these simple tasks around their homes, we would have fewer mosquitos in the area and a healthier place to live and work.

Tracking Down your Mosquito Problems

Useful mosquito links

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yellow Poinciana (Peltophorum pterocarpum)

After a long, cold winter (for Florida) we are being rewarded in the landscape. The Yellow Poinciana is in full bloom in parts of Pinellas County, and they are spectacular. Large clusters of bold yellow flowers are blanketing the trees. They are like a ray of sunshine in the tree canopy. The flowers also have a pleasant smell that is often described as grape-like.

The Yellow Poinciana is not native to Florida, but is cold hardy in our area. This tree makes a great shade tree or specimen tree if you have lots of space, but care should be taken not to plant it too close to structures, driveways, or sidewalks. They have a shallow root system that can be destructive to hardscape and also increase the tree’s susceptibility to being blown over in severe wind storms. A Yellow Poinciana may grow as tall as 50’ with a crown spread of 35’-50’, so be sure to give this tree plenty of space. In the right location the Yellow Poinciana can be quite the show stopper!

IFAS Fact Sheet on Yellow Poinciana

Photos courtesy of Jane Morse, Pinellas County Commercial Horticulture Agent.