San Diego - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at the San Diego International Airport on Oct. 4 found several olive fruit fly larvae in fresh olives that were brought by a passenger arriving from Lebanon.
CBP agriculture specialists screened the passenger's baggage and found almost nine pounds of fresh olives inside. Travelers are prohibited from bringing olives from Lebanon into the United States.
CBP agriculture specialists inspected the olives and found fruit fly larvae. The larvae were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for identification, and USDA confirmed the larvae to be olive fruit flies (Bactrocera oleae).
Olive fruit flies feed exclusively on olive fruits, and are a serious pest of cultivated olives in most of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Pest Notes, it was detected in California in 1998 and is now found in all olive growing areas of the state. According to the University of California, olive fruit flies threaten virtually all commercial and fruit-bearing ornamental olive plantings.
The larvae of the olive fruit fly feed inside the fruit, destroying the pulp and rendering the fruit susceptible to secondary bacterial and fungal infections that rot the fruit and degrade the quality of the oil. Feeding damage can also cause fruit to drop from the plant prematurely and reduce fruit quality for both olives themselves and olives used for olive oil production.
CBP agriculture specialists protect the United States from the threat of invasive pests and diseases with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States.
"The daily work of agriculture specialists is essential in safeguarding and preserving U.S. agricultural resources from foreign pests," said Chris Maston, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego. "Through their diligent inspections, CBP agriculture specialists ensure that the harmful pests are stopped before they enter the country and cause severe economic loss."