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, Pallifera sp (Philomycidae), a type of slug, while inspecting an air cargo shipment of fresh mint from Mexico on February 26.
Slugs could be a host for human pathogens such as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a parasitic nematode that is a worldwide problem and the most common parasite causing human eosinophilic meningitis. Slugs also eat a wide variety of leafy plants causing damage and disease and potentially lowering crop yield.
“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 specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry.”
The slug was discovered in an 83 pound shipment of mint from Mexico destined for Elkridge, Md. CBP forwarded the slug 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.
Learn more about the USDA, APHIS, PPQ program.
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 4,379 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 440 insect pests.
Learn more about CBP agriculture specialists.
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.