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CBP Intercepts Invasive Slow-Moving Hitchhiker

Release Date: 
August 20, 2020

Snails arriving on vessel could damage U.S. agriculture

CBP agriculture specialists find these snails hitchhiking on arriving cargo.
CBP  agriculture specialists found these 
snails hitchhiking  on arriving cargo . They are
an invasive pest and harmful to  U.S. crops.

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at the Houston Seaport made an interesting discovery on board a vessel arriving from Israel, July 25, when they plucked several hitchhiking snails from the interior and exterior of military vehicles.

CBP agriculture specialists regularly inspect cargo for soil and hitchhiking pests. In this instance, they discovered several tiny snails, measured in millimeters, snugly attached to the used military vehicles.

Snails of this size are difficult to see as they hide in small crevasses and areas where moisture is present.  Snails also have the ability to seal themselves up and survive for long periods without moisture.  Their microscopic stature proved to be no match for CBP agriculture specialists’ vigilance and determination.

Snails attached to this piece of equipment
CBP agriculture specialists found  these 
microscopic pests attached to arriving cargo.

“Our agriculture specialists have degrees in some type of biological sciences and many have advanced degrees in their chosen field,” said CBP Port Director Roderick Hudson. “But every one of our agriculture specialists are extremely committed to safeguarding our nation’s agriculture industry.  They are out on arriving vessels, under vehicles loaded as cargo, and crawling in containers carefully inspecting goods for the tiniest of insects hitchhiking on a shipment that if allowed to proceed could devastate our natural resources.”  

CBP agriculture specialists sent the snails to the local US Department of Agriculture Identifiers and were determined to be Xeropicta krynickii and Monacha cf. syriaca.  These types of snails are an invasive pest that can damage crops and are considered contaminants, as they can cause serious harm to US agriculture and natural resources.

CBP ordered the cargo on the vessel to be fumigated before its cargo was released. 

On a typical day in Fiscal Year 2019, CBP discovered 314 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 4,695 materials for quarantine: plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021