In 1513, conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon landed in what would eventually become St. Augustine and promptly staked a claim for Spain. The Spaniards found the peninsula teeming with life—plants, birds, fish—and insects of all descriptions. Nearly 500 years later, the battle is still on between mankind and the myriad insects in the animal kingdom.
Florida’s subtropical climate, short mild winters, and abundant wetlands and marshes are paradise for man and bug alike, and while the insects don’t seem to mind sharing, mankind has developed an entire industry to eradicate these insect interlopers.
What product is applied, by whom, where and when, is a major concern and expense for property management companies. In the state of Florida there is no easy one-size-fits-all answer on how to manage all things entomological. Fortunately, there are resources statewide.
The Florida Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), along with Florida A&M University (FAMU), has had entomology and nematology programs (the study of insects and worms, respectively) in place since 1915, according to professor John Capinera, chairman of UF’s entomology and nematology department. Under that umbrella is The Florida Cooperative Extension Service (FCES). The FCES is a partnership between state, federal, and county governments. The IFAS Extension has an office in every county in order to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. Counties have been grouped regionally into five districts in order to meet the needs of the local communities with programs for the public and training and certification for professional pest control operators.
The Cooperative Extension service is a nationwide educational network. Trained professionals in each office work both locally and statewide, sharing resources and information with each other and the public they serve. The University of Florida website (www.ifas.ufl.edu) links it all together.