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Mary Lamberts and Adrian Hunsberger

Many people, including growers and gardeners, fail to carefully read pesticide labels before each use because they assume they know what the label contains. The UF Miami-Dade County Extension pesticide trainer developed several hands-on exercises where participants had to find information on labels chosen for specific features. The first group was people taking the Core/General Standards training. Five pesticide labels were used. Participants were asked to find information from three different categories: 1) basic information used for record keeping and about the product;2) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Precautionary Statements; and 3) additional product information such as irrigation and tank mix warnings. A second group, Private Applicators (growers and their employees), studied 6 labels (1 overlap with Core training). They were asked information that focused on Worker Protection Standard issues, resistance management, limits on number total amount applied, and pre-harvest intervals. For both types of licensed applicator training, participants were divided into groups of 5 to 6. On several occasions, growers and other licensed applicators said they thought labels should have greater uniformity regarding location of key information. Master Gardeners (MGs), the third group, were first given three general publications on labels and 1 on protecting the applicator. They then received labels of four homeowner products and were guided through finding information such as: labeled crops/sites, pests controlled, signal words, mixing instructions, preharvest intervals and replant information. MG knowledge was evaluated with a five-question quiz. All participants commented that they learned a lot about reading labels.

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Adrian Hunsberger and Ruben Regalado

The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) has become a serious agricultural and animal pest in the southern U.S. since its accidental introduction in the 1930s. Traditionally, this pest ant has been under chemical control with very limited success and treatments must be repeated on a regular basis. One strategy to manage the red imported fire ant, which has been tried in parts of the southern U.S., is to use biocontrol agents to reduce fire ant populations. We released decapitating phorid flies (Pseudacteon tricuspis) as a self-sustaining biocontrol agent specific to S. invicta at two sites in South Florida during the spring of 2003 (site 1) and 2005 (site 2). Establishment of fly populations was monitored by disturbing 10 fire ant mounds and inspecting the number of hovering flies for 15 min. per mound. At site 1, within 1.5 years, 30% of mounds were positive for phorid flies and total estimated fire ant mounds decreased by 94%. At site 2, the number of mounds was recorded 1 day prerelease and 2 months postrelease. Ant mound density decreased by 71.4% with 73% of the remaining ant mounds positive for flies. This study confirms the successful establishment of the decapitating phorid fly in South Florida.

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Mary Lamberts and Adrian Hunsberger

When Master Gardeners first begin a training class, their preconceived notions about concepts such as IPM, pests and pest management are usually very similar to those of the general gardening public. Master Gardeners interact extensively with home owners and are often either the first or the only person from an Extension office with whom an individual speaks. We designated part of their initial training to a module aimed at getting them to understand basic concepts about IPM, pests and pest management. Slides were used to review the different types of pests/pesticides and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles that apply to a) insects and related organisms, b) diseases and c) weeds. These were accompanied by very simple guidelines for each pest group, stressing that pesticides should not automatically be the home owner's first choice. The pesticide label reading portion of this module started with basic information about pesticide labels themselves. From there, Master Gardener trainees were led through an exercise where they had to find specific information on various labels: Sevin, RoundUp, Daconil 2787, Brush-B-Gon, Phyton 27, Dipel, and Amdro. For fruit and vegetable use, they had to find preharvest intervals and any restrictions on planting. For all products, they looked for rates, timing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—if listed, and noted label variations. Pre-training scores averaged 60% while post-training scores were 90% or higher.

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Henrique Mayer, Adrian Hunsberger, and Marguerite Beckford

Miami-Dade County Extension, with the participation of University of Florida faculty and other speakers, created a Certified Course in Horticulture in 2005. The intended audience is landscape maintenance and installation personnel, tree trimming employees, home gardeners, city and parks employees, and others who want horticultural knowledge. The goal of the program was to educate the participants in basic horticultural practices such as: plant selection and installation—including palms and turf; plant propagation; landscape design; pruning; irrigation; fertilization; pest control, and related topics. The class was limited to 60 participants due to space constraints. The response surpassed all expectations with 58 people completing the course and 40 passing the final exam. Eight months after the end of the program, a follow-up telephone survey was conducted with 24 participants. The results reflect that a high percentage of the participants are still using the correct landscape techniques. In order to reach as many people as possible a video or CD with the entire course is going to be prepared.