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Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Port Seed Bug

Release Date: 
May 14, 2013

BALTIMORE—With its red body and black spots, it looked like an elongated, narrowed version of a lady bug, but to Baltimore U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists, the Horvathiolus superbus seed bug they intercepted Friday looked like something else - a potential agriculture threat pest.

And to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist, it was the first such reported interception in the Baltimore area.

Horvathiolus superbus seed bug.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in Baltimore discovered a Horvathiolus superbus seed bug in a shipment of Italian ceramic tiles May 10, 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist confirmed that this interception was a first regional discovery of the Horvathiolus superbus seed bug.

Photo Credit:USDA APHIS PPQ Dr. Jim Young

The Horvathiolus superbus seed bug is known to occur in Europe. Not much is known about this specific species, but it is classified in the Lygaeidae family of seed bugs which damage a wide variety of plants and seeds by using their mouthparts to extract fluids. A few of the plant-feeding species are considered to be serious pests.

The Horvathiolus superbus seed bug arrived aboard a shipment of ceramic Italian tiles. CBP submitted the specimen Thursday to the local USDA - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification.

"The threat of invasive hitchhiking insect pests is very real, and an extremely serious concern for United States' agriculture industries," said Ricardo Scheller port director for the Port of Baltimore. "One of Customs and Border Protection's priority missions is to intercept and eradicate potential agriculture threats at our nation's borders, and our agriculture specialists take their mission very seriously."

Also in that shipment, CBP discovered an actionable snail, Xerotricha conspurcata; and an actionable stinkbug, Sciocoris sp. CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer and ordered that the shipment be either fumigated or re-exported.

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 Web site for Plant Health.

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 the CBP Web site.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017