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Citrus industry braces for aphid

The destructive brown citrus aphid has spread northward from South Florida in its expected sweep through the state's citrus groves.

Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford said Friday the pest, which carries the tristeza virus, had been detected in Collier, Hendry, Martin and St. Lucie counties. It was first found near Fort Lauderdale last fall.

The billion-dollar citrus industry is on alert, employing a number of chemical sprays that control the aphid and replanting with hardier rootstocks. Scientists also are growing and releasing parasitic wasps as control agents.

Chessie loses tracking collar before Bertha

BEAUFORT, N.C. _ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has lost track of Chessie, a manatee it had tracked since he turned up in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay two years ago.

The manatee slipped free of its radio collar while cruising the Intracoastal Waterway near Beaufort two days before Hurricane Bertha hit the North Carolina coast.

A biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Gainesville said he was not worried. "We don't anticipate any problems," James Reid said. "The storm was strong but not severe, and these animals are pretty adept at surviving in the water."

Reid guesses that Chessie holed up in a harbor during the storm and then resumed his yearly migration from South Florida.

Suspect in black church fire held in jail

MARIANNA _ A man charged with arson in the burning of a black church made his first court appearance Friday and was ordered held in jail.

Bail for John David Knowlton, 57, who had complained about noisy services when he lived next door to Evangelist Temple Church of God in Christ, was set at $25,000. A prosecutor had asked for $100,000 bail.

Knowlton was charged with setting fire June 11 to a pew at the church. The fire caused $300 in damage. Racial slurs were found on a wall in Knowlton's former residence, investigators said.