San Francisco - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the San Francisco Air Mail Center discovered potentially devastating fruit flies on Tuesday, in a package destined for Minnesota. The package originated in Thailand, and contained eggplants and taro roots. The taro roots were also infested with immature beetle larvae.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff identified the fruit flies as Bactrocera sp. (Tephritidae), also known as Oriental fruit fly. The beetle larvae were identified as larvae Araecerus sp. (Anthribidae). A great number of crops in California are threatened by the introduction of the Oriental fruit fly, including pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots, figs, citrus, tomatoes and avocados. Several states, including California, have suffered severe economic losses due to quarantines placed on produce as a result of fruit fly infestations.
According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture pest profile on this fruit fly, it has been estimated that the cost of not eradicating Oriental fruit fly in California would range from $44 to $176 million in crop losses, additional pesticide use, and quarantine requirements.
"This interception demonstrates the vital role CBP plays in protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests," said CBP San Francisco Director of Field Operations Richard Vigna.
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.