SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted two different species of destructive pests, in two different shipments of fruits and flowers, making it the first time these bugs had ever been seen at the Mexico-California border.
The most recent discovery was on June 22 at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, when a shipment of rambutan fruit arrived at the cargo facility.
During secondary inspection, CBP officers discovered three specimens of Pseudococcidae and submitted them to the USDA.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified the pests as a “First-in-Port” and “First-in-Nation” finding.
The USDA says many species of Pseudococcidae, also known as mealybugs, feed on plant juice in fruit trees and can act as a vector for several plant diseases.
“In recent years, some of the mealybug species have become invasive pests in localities posing a great problem to the new agroecosystems,” said the USDA.
According to CBP, the second discovery occurred on May 29, when a truck entered the U.S. from Mexico at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility with a shipment of flowers.
CBP officers referred the truck to an agriculture inspection area where officers, conducting a hands-on inspection, found a live beetle on one of the flowers.
The specimen was submitted to USDA and then referred to a national specialist for identification.
It came back as Dihammaphora hispida, of the Cerambycidae family of beetles that was also determined to be as a “first-in-port” and “first-in-nation” finding.
These are known as longhorn beetle larvae that feed on plant tissue such as stems, trunks, or roots of both herbaceous and woody plants.
The USDA says the larvae get into wood and can cause widespread harm to either living trees or untreated lumber, causing extensive economic damage.
“I praise our CBP agriculture specialists for being vigilant and for preventing these pests from entering our beautiful country which could have caused a major economic disaster,” said Anne Maricich, CBP Deputy Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists work diligently to fulfill CBP’s mission and protect our country from harm, including those hidden threats that could damage the U.S. agriculture, our natural resources and our economy.”
CBP says both trucks and their shipments were returned to Mexico by CBP agriculture specialists as a precautionary measure.