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CBP agriculture specialists discover first-in-nation pest in San Diego

Release Date
Thu, 08/17/2023
Otay Mesa, CA
For More Information
(202) 344-1780

OTAY MESA, Calif., – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists assigned to the Otay Mesa cargo facility intercepted a rare pest while inspecting a cargo shipment on July 19 when a shipment containing pocket leaves arrived at the facility. A CBP officer referred the driver and cargo for an intensive agriculture inspection during the initial inspection of the shipment.

CBP agriculture specialists discovered an unusual insect within the pocket leaves while inspecting the cargo. The pest was submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for further identification. Agriculture specialists, using appropriate precautionary measures, then returned the shipment and driver to Mexico.

A final identification of the pest was made August 3 as Rhabdotalebra signata. This species has not been recorded in the USDA pest identification database, qualifying this discovery as a first across all ports in the nation. The impressive find demonstrates CBP’s efforts to prevent invasive species from entering the United States.

Event photo; description in caption.
CBP officials refused the entry of a cargo shipment containing a pest never recorded before in the Department of Agriculture's pest identification database.

“It is truly a remarkable achievement discovering a first-of-its-kind pest in our nation. Our agriculture specialists’ role will continue to aid in safeguarding our environment and agriculture,” stated Rosa Hernandez, Otay Mesa Port Director.

People and industries who wish to import flowers, plant materials, and other agricultural items should visit the Bringing Agricultural Products into the United States section of CBP’s website for ways to prevent conveyance contamination. CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival. 

Follow the Director of CBP’s San Diego Field Office on Twitter at @DFOSanDiegoCA for breaking news, current events, and more.

Last Modified: Aug 21, 2023