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CBP Intercepts Various Agricultural Pests

Release Date: 
July 21, 2011

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Though they elude the naked eye, small insects can hide within fruits, vegetables or flowers that could damage local farmed crops, and amount to significant costs to eradicate and treat.

This week U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists stationed in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands found various actionable pests within commercial consignments of cut flowers, sweet potatoes, chayote, coconuts, celery and Persian limes imported from Colombia, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

The identified insects, mentioned by their scientific and common names, are: Frankliniella sp. (thirps), Agromyzidae sp. (leaf-miner flies), Aphididae sp.(aphids), and Pseudococcidae (mealybugs).

Thirps are pests of commercial crops, whose damage is caused by their feeding on developing flowers or vegetables, causing discoloration and deformities, with the ultimate effect of reduced marketability of the crop.

The family Agromyzidae is commonly referred to as the leaf-miner flies because of the feeding habit of the larvae, which live and eat within and between the leaf tissues of plants.

Aphids are among the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions. The damage they do to plants has made them enemies of farmers and gardeners all over the world, but from a zoological standpoint, they are a very successful group of organisms due to the asexual reproduction capability of some species.

Mealybugs are insects in the family Pseudococcidae, unarmored scale insects found in moist, warm climates. They are considered pests as they feed on plant juices of greenhouse plants, houseplants and subtropical trees, and act as a vector for several serious plant diseases.

All infested and contaminated shipments are safeguarded and transferred for appropriate re-export and/or destruction under CBP agriculture specialist custody or treatment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ).

Invasive species include non-native, alien, or exotic plant pests (such as insects, mollusks, weeds, or pathogens); animal and zoonotic disease pathogens, which can transmit diseases between animals and humans; or other organisms that can cause economic or environmental harm to U.S. agriculture, range, and forest systems if they enter the United States.

While most plant pest introductions occur unintentionally as an end result of increased global travel and trade, acts of biological terrorism which threaten the United States' agricultural and natural resources are a rising fear. Plant pests, weeds, and diseases are all potential agents of bioterrorism. Nonetheless, exporters, importers and producers should be cognizant of the U.S. Phytosanitary measures before shipping/importing their products.

CBP agriculture specialists safeguard American agriculture by detecting and preventing entry into the country of plant pests and exotic foreign animal diseases that could harm agricultural resources. They do this with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items, whether in commercial cargo or as "hitchhikers" with an international airline/vessel passenger or a pedestrian crossing the border, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock, and the environment.

For more detailed information on these and other pests, the public can consult the following link on the USDA/APHIS website. (USDA/APHIS website)

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021