Florida is a major attraction for people of all ages. Because of its climate, Florida offers a lifestyle of watersports, sunbathing, golfing and other outdoor activities. Florida is a destination for winter weary people to take a much needed break from frigid temperatures and snow. And because of its warm weather, Florida is a retirement destination for those looking to spend their golden years enjoying life with all the Sunshine State has to offer.
It should come as no surprise that no only people are attracted to Florida. Many animal species and plants also enjoy the environment of Florida. The animals and plants that are native to Florida are now finding themselves in danger because of foreign species that have been introduced into the ecosystem of Florida. All these species have been introduced by humans either intentionally or accidentally.
The first foreign species on the most wanted list of pest threats is the giant African Snail. This snail has been introduced to Florida via shipping and also as a pet. These snails can grow up to 7 inches long. They have a voracious appetite and are eating their way through native vegetation. They can lay as many as 1200 eggs a year, so they are propagating at an alarming rate. Not only is vegetation in danger from these snails, they eat the stucco off homes for the calcium and they carry a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.
Second on the most wanted list is the Burmese Python. This snake is most likely being introduced to the Florida environment by people who are releasing their pets into the wild because they can no longer handle them. Burmese Pythons are eating their way through native animal species. They eat everything from rodents to alligators. These pythons are difficult to capture due to their ability to go underground for long periods of time, sometimes a month or more between feedings.
And another entry on the most wanted pest threats in Florida is the Brazilian Pepper Tree. This plant was imported to Florida as an ornamental plant that quickly took over. The danger it poses to native vegetation is a serious one. The Brazilian Pepper Tree easily kills off native vegetation by overcoming it and shading it from the life giving sun.
There are many other species on the most wanted list in Florida due to the welcoming environment in the Sunshine State. It is easy to see why care needs to be exercised when allowing a foreign species to take hold on native land.