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Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Port Seed Beetle

Release Date: 
February 26, 2013

BALTIMORE—A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed Wednesday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport discovered a new pest in the Baltimore area when they intercepted, Spermophagus negligens, an insect that belongs to the family of seed beetles or bean weevils, Bruchidae. The agriculture specialists discovered the pest while inspecting hibiscus seeds found inside of a travelers luggage on May 29, 2012.

According to the USDA this is only the second time this pest has been encountered in the United States. The first interception occurred on October 26, 1999 when agriculture specialists at Philadelphia International Airport discovered the insect while examining a two pound bag of seeds found inside a traveler's bag from the United Kingdom.

Spermophagus negligens

Spermophagus negligens

Spermophagus negligens could pose a significant agriculture threat because they can infest stored products or warehouses of important commodities such as beans, peas, and seeds. Adults lay eggs on the seeds and the newly hatched larvae then bore holes and live most of their lives inside the seeds. An infestation of Spermophagus negligens is very difficult to control as the pests reproduce rapidly.

"CBP agriculture specialists take their job of detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests very seriously," said Ricardo Scheller Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. "This is another example of our agriculture specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry."

The beetles were discovered on hibiscus seeds being carried by a passenger from the United Kingdom. CBP seized the contaminated seeds and forwarded specimens of the insects to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification. The remaining seeds were then destroyed by incineration.

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.

For more on the USDA, APHIS, PPQ program, please visit the USDA website.

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 4,919 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 476 insect pests.

To learn more about CBP agriculture specialists, please visit Agriculture Specialist.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017