CBP In Puerto Rico Examines Cut Flowers Arriving for Valentine's Day
San Juan, P.R. - Flowers are the most popular gift item during the yearly celebration of Valentine's Day, but they could also be the hiding place for dangerous pests.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport spend numerous hours searching for these conspicuous bugs.
From the start of this New Year, CBP Agriculture Specialists have dedicated numerous hours inspecting cut flower imports arriving, primarily from Colombia, with 211.9 million stems or 66 percent, followed by Ecuador, with 70.5 million stems or 33 percent, as well as from Mexico, Netherlands, Costa Rica and Thailand.
CBP processed approximately 320.8 million cut flower stems during the 2010 Valentine's season - Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 - compare to 148.5 millions stems processed during the 2009 season, an increase of 45 percent
San Juan ranks among the top 10 ports of entry processing 1,159,129 cut flower imports. Miami ranks the first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flower imports, followed by Los Angeles.
The imported cut flowers inspection process resulted in a total of 3,054 pest interceptions nationally. In San Juan, 63 Actionable Pests were intercepted during the last years Valentines' season; ranking among the top 5 ports nationwide.
The most common type of insects intercepted in these cut flower imports are Thrips (Thripidae), Moths (Noctuidae), Aphids (Aphididae) , and Miner Flies (Agromyzidae). These insects are considered invasive pests as they have the potential to adversely affect the habitats and bioregions they invade economically, environmentally, and/or ecologically.
Roses top the list of the top 10 cut flower imports followed by Mixed Bouquets, Dianthus (carnations) and Chrysanthemum (pom-pon).
"Stopping pests at the ports of entry is a critical mission for our Agricultural Specialists in order to protect the public and our commercial vitality," said Marcelino Borges, director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.