Pembina, N.D. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Pembina, N.D. port of entry have intercepted citrus fruit infected with serious plant diseases and insect pests.
In December and January, CBP agriculture specialists intercepted mandarin oranges with citrus black spot disease and arrowhead scale from travelers in vehicles arriving from Canada. The travelers were destined to Sun Belt states, where citrus industries could be devastated by the introduction of these two pests.
Citrus black spot, formally known as Guignardia citricarpa Kiely, is an invasive plant disease not yet present in the United States. It is considered to be one of the most important diseases of citrus in the world. Establishment of black spot in the United States could severely impact domestic citrus production and devastate export sales. The fungus causes lesions that make the fruit unsuitable for the fresh fruit market and can cause extensive premature fruit drop that reduces yields of fruit for processing.
Arrowhead Scale, formally known as Unaspis yanonensis Kuwana, is a major pest of citrus. The arrowhead scale does not currently exist in the United States. The introduction of this pest could be devastating. It has been reported to be the most destructive citrus pest in Japan since its discovery in 1907. Scale insects have sucking mouthparts that enable them to feed on plant juices. The immobile adults both protect themselves and attach to their plant hosts by secreting a waxy covering, or scale. Feeding damage by scales may render fruit unmarketable, and severe feeding damage can lead to the death of the entire tree within one year. Establishment and spread of this pest in the United States could jeopardize citrus crops in domestic and international trade.
The interceptions at Pembina emphasize the importance of agriculture inspections at the Canadian border. There are many types of fresh fruit, vegetables and live plants that may legally enter Canada from tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Mandarin oranges are one example. These fruits however, are not allowed into the United States because they can harbor plant pests and diseases that could severely impact U.S. agriculture.
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.