Successful Mosquito Control and IPM at a Zoological Theme Park
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Indigo, Indigofera spicata
is a low growing tropical legume whose minute flowers are visited
variety of micro-lepidoptera (small butterflies) and tiny parasitic
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experience with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) came
at a time in the early 1980’s when I was becoming very disenchanted
with the use of heavy duty pesticides. I had been working at Parrot Jungle
as the assistant horticulturist for nearly a decade and being responsible
for the application of pesticides, nematicides, and fungicides I was gradually
becoming aware of the complex environmental issues that resulted from
pesticide use. I had also begun to notice that insect infestations were
almost always occurring in the same area on the same plants. Why weren’t
these problems occurring in other locations that seemed equally appropriate?
Why were certain species of plants always full of insects or mites in
the nursery but never in the garden? I was beginning to have many questions
to which I could not find the answers.
had recently hired a man who was a recent immigrant from Cuba. He had
worked as a “Bananero” in Cuba; a worker on a banana plantation.
He was one of those people one sees occasionally that even without a formal
education they are a tremendous source of knowledge on the natural world.
They are absolute empiricists. The most minute detail is noticed by them,
a decision will be made, and course of action will be determined that
will provide a positive horticultural result.
We had several
stands of bananas that were constantly being sprayed for red spider mites;
up to eight times a year in the same location. One day I noticed the “Bananero”
had cut off all the lower leaves from each banana trunk to approximately
90°. I was very upset that he had cut off all of these lush, healthy
looking green leaves. When I approached him, he explained that by cutting
off those leaves there would be no more insect problems. There was no
other choice but to accept the situation. I was not happy with what he
had done. After a month or so it began to dawn on me that spider mites
were specialists and their infestations invariably began on the oldest
foliage of all the different species of plants with which I was familiar.
am sampling a storm drain for mosquito larva with my assistant a young
Emu. This is part of the successful mosquito larvae control program
at Parrot Jungle Island.
eventually moved on to a different place in his new country but I was
left with the beginning of very successful and constantly evolving IPM
and Plant Health Care programs (PHC). The original article that I wrote
based upon my spider
mite/banana experience was published in 1991 in the Heliconia Society
eventually evolved to Parrot Jungle & Gardens and now to a brand new,
built from scratch tropical theme park, Parrot Jungle Island (PJI). The
IPM and PHC programs are also evolving to accommodate the new soil and
climatic conditions (windy and less cold temperatures in the winter).
Tropical Designs of Florida along with PJI are now members of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenScapes Alliance landscape
program. This alliance is designed to help preserve natural resources
and prevent waste and pollution by encouraging companies, government agencies,
and other entities to make more holistic decisions regarding waste generation
and disposal and the use of the land, water, pesticides, and energy. I
have also written (and will be implementing) the 2005 strategic plan for
Parrot Jungle Island's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's program
for the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program.
A flower of the tropical tree Ceiba speciosa formerly called Chorisia
ripe fruit of Pandanus fascicularis formerly called Pandanus
Click to Enlarge
Plagiostachys species from Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia
inflorescence of Dichorisandra hexandra from the base of Volcan
Mombacho in Nicaragua.