Baltimore, M.D. - A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed today that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists recorded the first local discovery of a Gonocerus acuteangulatus in a shipping container of ceramic tiles from Italy at the Baltimore seaport Friday.
The Gonocerus acuteangulatus species of leaf-footed bug is known to occur in Europe. It has only been reported 14 times in the United States. It can pose a serious threat to the yields of American wheat and hazelnut harvests. It is also known to feed on boxwood, Hawthorne, buckthorn, yew and plum trees.
"This first in port discovery mitigates another new and potentially destructive threat to America's agriculture and to our economy," said Ricardo Scheller, CBP Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. "It is also further testimony to the diligence exercised by Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists every day to detect and intercept invasive insects at our nation's borders."
The shipment was destined for Eldersburg, Md. CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer requiring the shipment to be re-exported or destroyed. The importer plans to fumigate.
Upon discovery, CBP forwarded the specimen to a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification.
CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA's APHIS PPQ to protect our nation's agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States and seize 4,291 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 470 insect pests.
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 terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.