BALTIMORE—A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed Friday that 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, Ceratothripoides brunneus Bagnall, or tomato thrip, while inspecting leaves found inside of a travelers luggage on July 26, 2012.
Tomato thrips could pose a significant agriculture threat because they feed by piercing the tissue of leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit, delaying fruit development or damaging its quality. In the process of feeding, this pest may also transfer viruses or bacteria to the plant causing indirect damage.
"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 specialist performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry."
The thrips were discovered on leaves being carried by a passenger from Jamaica. CBP seized the contaminated leaves 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 leaves were then destroyed by incineration.
CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA, 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 USDA APHIS.
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.
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.