Dulles CBP Makes 'New' Insect Pest Discovery
Sterling, Va. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists confirmed that an insect pest they discovered in a shipment of 200 flowers at Washington-Dulles International Airport on April 20 is indeed a newly reported insect discovery in the United States.
CBP agricultures specialists discovered what was identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist as a Conostethus venustus Fieber, from the family Miridae, a new actionable pest. The insect was discovered in a shipment of 110 cut stem Callas from Kenya and 90 from the Netherlands.
"CBP agriculture specialists take their jobs of protecting American agriculture very seriously and each pest interception is a little victory of sorts," said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington, D.C. "But a first in nation discovery brings equal parts celebration and concern. CBP is committed to working with our industry partners to ensure measures are taken to mitigate any potential reoccurrence."
CBP agriculture specialists immediately secured the flower shipment when they discovered the insect, and shipped the insect to the USDA pest identifier. Conostethus venustus Fieber (Miridae) is an insect known to exist in Europe, but not in the United States.
Not much is known about this insect pest; however Miridae is a large family of insects known as plant bugs or leaf bugs.
"We know that insects in the Miridae family generally have a voracious appetite and can cause serious harm to cultivated plants in the United States resulting in significant yield loss. The introduction of this insect pest could have a profound impact on American agriculture industries," said Hess.
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification requiring the flowers to be either fumigated or destroyed. The broker importing the flowers chose to destroy the flowers by steam sterilization on Friday.
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 454 insect pests.
"CBP agriculture specialists do an immensely important, yet unglamorous mission everyday as the front line protectors of our nation's agriculture industry," said Hess.
To learn more about CBP agriculture specialists, please visit the CBP Agriculture Specialist Web page.
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.