Florida's Beautiful Palm Trees Are Under Attack by a Fatal, Insect-Borne Disease
It's hard to imagine Florida without its signature Palm trees, flanking the driveways of luxury resorts, dotting the horizon of state parks, and serving as an unofficial flag throughout The Sunshine State.
Unfortunately, this beautiful symbol of Florida is under an intense threat from "a rice-sized, plant-hopping insect," per a new report from the Associated Press. The disease overwhelming these cherished trees is called lethal bronzing, which dries the trees to crisps in months. Once the trees are infected, they are unable to rebound, and while antibiotics are available for the trees, they're too cost-prohibitive to use on a large scale. The fatal disease is effecting nearly all types of the state's palm trees.
"Getting this disease under control is essential because it has the potential to drastically modify our landscape," Brian Bahder, PhD, an entomologist researching lethal bronzing and an assistant professor at the University of Florida—even right outside his office near Fort Lauderdale palm trees are being ravaged by the disease—told the Associated Press.
For now, the outlook for these palm trees isn't that encouraging. "With increased human movement around the region and, especially, stronger weather patterns in regards to climate change, there are more possible routes for invasive insects," Bahder told the Associated Press.
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So what can you do to help these trees? A good starting point: Use eco-friendly products instead of single-use plastics, do what you can to minimize your carbon footprint (carpooling, anyone?), and eat as much local, plant-based food as possible.