CBP in San Diego stops leafhopper from entering U.S.; first in the nation pest interception



A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist from the Otay Mesa cargo facility stopped a leafhopper, never before seen in the U.S., from entering the country last week.

On December 8, 2011, a cargo shipment of fresh vegetables entered the port and was referred for an inspection by CBP agriculture specialist. A CBP agriculture specialist, while inspecting bok choy, spotted a live leafhopper on the bok choy.

The CBP agriculture specialist sent the leafhopper to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for identification. The Plant Protection and Quarantine division of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service identified the insect as

Agallia constricta cubana

and confirmed that it was the first recorded interception of this particular bug anywhere in the United States.

The leafhopper, or

Agallia constricta cubana,

belongs to a family of cicadellidae. Leafhoppers are know to transmit viruses and bacteria to other plants that can affect plant growth, fruit production, and can make the plant susceptible to infections by other pathogens.

When a container of produce is found with a pest that requires the importer to take action, they are given the option to: return the shipment to the country of origin, treat the produce to ensure that there are no pests, or destroy the shipment. In this case, the importer returned the shipment to Mexico.

“It is important we keep these pests out of our country. The expense of eradication is high and the difficultly of determining crop damage by a newly introduced pest, can be serious,” said Chris Maston, director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego. “By stopping bugs at the border, before they can enter the United States for the first time, CBP officers and agriculture specialists protect this vital American industry.” –CBP–

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terriost weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.