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Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Nation Destructive Beet Flea Beetle in Shipment of Italian Ceramic Tiles

Release Date: 
November 30, 2015

BALTIMORE - A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed Wednesday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists at the Port of Baltimore made a first in nation pest discovery when they intercepted a live insect known as Chaetocnema breviuscula Felderman (Chrysomelidae), a beet flea beetle, while inspecting ceramic tile from Italy.

Photo of Chaetocnema breviuscula Felderman (Chrysomelidae)

Baltimore CBP agriculture specialists recorded the nation's first interception of a Chaetocnema breviuscula Felderman (Chrysomelidae), a beet flea beetle, while inspecting ceramic tile from Italy on November 12, 2015. [Image source: The AgroAtlas Project]

This jumping beetle chews little holes in the leaves of agriculture crops.  Young plants suffer badly and normally die.

“Keeping this pest out of the nation saves the American agricultural industry from the expense of eradication, and the hardship of finding their crops damaged by a new danger,” said Dianna Bowman CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Baltimore.  “By stopping destructive species at the border, before they can enter the United States for the first time, CBP officers and agriculture specialists protect this vital American industry.”

The beetle was discovered November 12 at the Baltimore Seaport in the interior of a container containing ceramic tile from Italy.  The specimen was forwarded to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – Plant Protection Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification.

On November 25, USDA confirmed that this was the first identification of this species in the United States.

CBP Agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agriculture inspection. On a typical day nationally, they inspect over 1 million people as well as air and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,447 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 425 agriculture pests and diseases.

Learn more about CBP's agriculture protection mission.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017