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CBP Intercepts Various Agricultural Pests, to include a First Time in Puerto Rico Ports Finding

Release Date: 
September 27, 2011

Mayaguez, 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 mount to significant costs to eradicate and treat.

A leaf mining flea-beetle known as the Acallepitrix sp.

This week, while inspecting commercial consignments of cut flowers from Colombia, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists stationed at Aguadilla and San Juan, Puerto Rico, found various actionable pests, one of them a first time in port interception.

The identified insects, mentioned by their scientific and common names, are: Frankliniella sp. (thrips), Copitarsia sp (Noctuidae), Aphididae sp. (aphids), and Acallepitrix sp. It is the first time the Acallepitrix sp has been identified in a port at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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

Noctuidae is an insect pest of vegetables and ornamental crops. Sp of Noctuidae are native of Mexico, Central America and South America and other foreign countries. These larvae stage "Moth" are frequently intercepted with incoming plants and produce; some species are not known to be established in the United States.

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

Acallepitrix sp., is a leaf mining flea-beetle, which has been determined to be an actionable pest. This pest has never been reported at Puerto Rico ports of entry.

At a separate inspection, CBP agriculture specialists discovered an insect within Persian limes imported from the Dominican Republic. The insect was identified as a Pseudococcidae sp (Mealy Bug), which is an actionable pest. Mealybugs are 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.

Insects are determined to be actionable because they are not prevalent (and/or established) in the U.S. and Territories and we don't want them to be. These invasive insects can potentially cause tremendous damage to a wide variety of crops and natural resources.

All infested and contaminated shipments with actionable pests 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 demonstrating careful diligence as they examine imported shipments 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, please visit the USDA/APHIS Web site. (Plant Health)

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017