STERLING, VA.—A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed Wednesday that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Washington Dulles International Airport discovered a new pest in the Washington area when they intercepted, Agallia constricta cubana, a leafhopper, while inspecting an air cargo shipment of basil from Mexico on December 17.
The leafhopper belongs to a family of cicadellidae. Leafhoppers are known to transmit viruses and bacteria to other plants that can affect plant growth, fruit production, and can make the plant susceptible to infections by other pathogens.
"CBP agriculture specialists take their job of detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests very seriously," said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington. "This is another example of our agriculture specialist performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry."
The leafhopper was discovered in a 41 box shipment of basil from Mexico. CBP forwarded the leafhopper to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification.
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer requiring the shipment to be re-exported or destroyed. The importer elected to have the shipment destroyed by steam sterilization under CBP agriculture specialist supervision.
CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA's, APHIS, PPQ to protect our nation's agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.
For more on the USDA, APHIS, PPQ program, please visit: USDA - APHIS
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States and seize 4,291 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 470 insect pests.
To learn more about CBP agriculture specialists, please visit Agriculture Specialist.
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.