Houston - A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialist working at the Houston/Galveston Seaport recently discovered an insect not previously found in the U.S. while performing routine inspections of imported tile.
Agriculture specialists were notified May 6 that the specimen collected at the seaport had never before been found in the United States.
An agriculture specialist performed an examination on a tile shipment from Italy when he found an insect crawling among the tiles. He collected the insect and sent it to an entomologist at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Inspection Station for identification. The specimen was subsequently forwarded to a national identifier at the Smithsonian Institute.
The final determination by a national identifier was Canthophorus sp. (Cydnidae) a pest that does not exist in the U.S. national collection of insects and is not found in North America. This pest belongs to the family of bugs known as burrower insects that feed on the roots of plants. The family is considered a serious plant pest that can deplete crop production.
"Our agriculture specialists carefully comb through shipments searching for insects that can potentially destroy American agriculture," said Jeffrey O. Baldwin Sr. "Even though these insects measure just a few centimeters, the destruction they can cause can be measured in acres and dollars."
The United States spends millions of dollars each year in pesticides, in order to prevent catastrophic damage to our agriculture, homes, forests and waterways.
The tile shipments have been treated and released.
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.