CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists at Port Canaveral cruise port in Cape Canaveral discovered an invasive pest on a passenger’s palm hat purchased in the Bahamas last month.
The passenger arrived on a cruise ship from the Bahamas and CBP agriculture specialists noticed possible red palm mite feeding damage on the palm frond hat. Upon further examination under the microscope, four eggs, three immature mites and nineteen adult red mites were discovered.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) later verified the specimen as Raoiella indica Hirst (Tenuipalpidae), commonly known as the red palm mite. The red palm mite is an invasive species spreading across the Caribbean, feeding on a number of palm species which causes yellowing of leaves.
If it became established in the United States, the red palm mite would pose a significant threat to the Nation’s ornamental palm, coconut, and banana industries. Travelers returning to the continental United States from the Caribbean with palmleaf hats and handicrafts risk transporting this pest to the mainland.
“Agriculture pests pose serious risk to plant and animal resources as well as the U.S. economy," said Port Canaveral Port Director Jean Anderson. "We are extremely proud of our CBP agriculture specialists for this interception and their hard work every day.”
Each year, CBP agriculture specialists intercept tens of thousands of “actionable pests” – those identified through scientific risk assessment and study as being dangerous to the health and safety of U.S. agricultural resources.
Find out more about CBP operations in Florida by visiting @CBPFlorida on Twitter.
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. laws.