PORTLAND, Ore. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists (CBPAS) stationed at the Portland, Oregon, seaport recently intercepted a total of eight (8) Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) egg masses on vessels that had arrived at Astoria, Oregon. These interceptions mark the first discoveries this year aboard international vessels arriving in the Portland area. One egg mass was also intercepted on a piece of luggage that arrived at Portland International Airport from Japan. Each of these masses can contain hundreds of eggs of this devastating plant pest.
AGM (Lymantria dispar) is a voracious pest that can eat the foliage of more than 500 different species of forest trees and other plants. This pest is of particular concern because AGM has the potential to spread quickly since the female moth can fly up to 25 miles. If established in the United States, AGM could decimate America’s forest resources and agriculture production.
In July, a supervisory CBP officer suspected an anomaly on a piece of luggage was an AGM egg mass and referred the passenger for a comprehensive inspection by CBPAS. The egg mass was carefully scraped and the area was treated. CBP conducted a thorough search of the aircraft on which the luggage arrived, with negative results. The egg mass was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as AGM.
In early August, CBPAS in Portland inspected foreign flag vessels arriving from areas with a high risk for AGM. During a deck sweep on the first vessel, CBPAS removed seven (7) suspected AGM egg masses from various surfaces of the vessel. Upon boarding the second vessel, CBPAS intercepted one egg mass. The egg masses intercepted in Astoria were scraped and the sites were treated. When CBP was confident that the pest risk was mitigated, the vessels were allowed to proceed. Both vessels had arrived from a port in Russia. The suspected AGM egg masses were submitted to the USDA and were positively identified through DNA analysis.
Cynthia Maltsberger, Acting Area Port Director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Portland remarked, “With AGM, it often feels as though we’re looking for a needle in a haystack. This is just one example of the great work our agriculture specialists do every day. Stopping this type of threat to our domestic agriculture industry and forest resources is one of our top priorities in our mission to protect our nation’s borders and our economic security.”
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.