San Diego CBP Agriculture Specialist Stop Four Significant Pests from Entering the Country

From U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists working at ports of entry along the California border with Mexico, during the month of September, stopped the four significant pests from entering the country and potentially damaging our agriculture industry.

On Friday, Sept. 7, a passenger arrived to the San Diego International Airport on a flight from England. A CBP agriculture specialist screening passenger baggage at the x-ray machine noticed an anomaly inside a passenger’s bag and referred it for an intensive inspection. The agriculture specialist physically examined the bag and discovered more than four pounds of curry leaves from India, a prohibited commodity.

Upon further inspection of the curry leaves, the agriculture specialist discovered live, dry, and empty shells of citrus blackfly. This is a first time interception of citrus blackfly at the port of San Diego and a significant one because it was discovered in the passenger environment. The eradication of citrus blackfly was a priority as a domestic program in Florida in the 1970s. Citrus blackfly is a pest that primarily affects citrus, although it also may affect many ornamental plants and some fruit trees; its feeding activity can damage new leaves and affect fruit production.

On September 18, a maritime container from Ecuador with a shipment of plantains, pepino melons, cassava, and taro was offloaded for inspection at the port of San Diego. A CBP agriculture specialist examined a box of taro and found immature scale insects. The agriculture specialist submitted the pests to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for identification. The USDA identifier notified CBP that the final identification of the pest was Margarodidae. The container was re-exported per direction from USDA.

On September 23, at the Otay Mesa cargo facility, a shipment of fresh produced entered the port and was sent to the dock for inspection. A CBP agriculture specialist examined some fresh thyme and found a weevil from the Curculionidae family.

The pest was submitted to the USDA Entomologist. An Emergency Action Notification was issued and the shipment was re-exported to Mexico for precautionary measure. This is a first time interception of this type of weevil on fresh Thyme from Mexico, in the nation.

On September 25, at the port of San Diego, a maritime cargo shipment of pineapples from Costa Rica was offloaded for inspection. A CBP agriculture specialist examined a box of pineapples and discovered a snail during the inspection process. The snail was submitted to the USDA entomologist for identification. The snail was identified as

Succinea Costaricana von Martens

(Succineidae) a first-time interception at the Port of San Diego.

“Keeping these pests out of the nation saves the American agricultural industry from the expense of eradication, and the hardship of finding their crops damaged by new dangers,” 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, CBP officers and agriculture specialists protect this vital American industry.”

Agriculture specialists protect the United States from the threat of invasive plant pests and foreign animal diseases with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items, whether in commercial cargo or with a person entering the country, could cause serious damage to America’s crops, livestock, environment and potentially public health.