Virgin Islands - Preventing one of the "world's most feared stored-product pests" from being introduced into the U.S. takes a lot of skill and insight.
Such a threat to our Caribbean economy could lie inside the cracks and crevices of packing material; it lives without food for long periods and survives on foods of low moisture content.
Last week an inspection performed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists to a cargo vessel at the Port of St. Croix revealed the presence of Khapra Beetle insects.
CBP, in concurrence with USDA ordered the vessel, M/T Delos, to leave territorial waters to complete a U.S. Department of Agriculture approved fumigation treatment schedule.
The Khapra Beetle, aka. Trogoderma granarium Everts, is one of the world's most feared stored-product pests, and is considered by academics as one of the 100 worst invasive species worldwide.
The Khapra Beetle, endemic to the area extending from Burma to West Africa, was first detected in California in 1953. The state began a massive control and eradication effort until 1966, which cost an estimated $15 million.
Discovery of such insect leads to an immediate quarantine of suspected goods and an expensive eradication and control effort. Khapra Beetle eradication was successful in the U.S.
The Khapra Beetle can spread through international trade; therefore, vigilant inspections at ports and entry points are vital.
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.
CBP agricultural specialists have extensive training and experience in agricultural and biological inspection. Their historic mission of preventing the introduction of harmful pests into the United States provides CBP with the expertise to recognize and prevent these invasive species from entering and becoming established in the U.S.
"CBP constantly works with USDA/APHIS in the very meticulous task of detecting and removing pests which could significantly harm our economy," said Marcelino Borges, director of field operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
For more information that is detailed on how you can help safeguard American agriculture, please visit the USDA/APHIS website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/index.shtml.
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. law