Aguadilla, Puerto Rico - A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed Monday that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists had discovered a new insect pest on air cargo arriving recently to the Rafael Hernandez Airport in northwestern Puerto Rico.
CBP agriculture specialists found a treehopper, with scientific name Metcalfiella vicina Fairmaire (Membracidae), while inspecting a shipment of cut flowers from Colombia. They intercepted the insect on Sterlitzia sp., also known as Crane Flower or Bird of Paradise.
According to USDA, this is the first time this particular insect has been intercepted in Puerto Rico ports.
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer requiring the shipment to be re-exported or fumigated. The shipment will be safeguarded and transferred to USDA for treatment.
"CBP agriculture specialists have an important mission in safeguarding the nation's agriculture," said Maria Palmer, Area Port Director. "This first in port interception demonstrates the vigilance of the agriculture specialists in Puerto Rico and their dedication to detect and prevent foreign invasive plants and plant pests from entering through our ports of entry."
CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) to protect our nation's agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. Their duties include inspecting tens of thousands of international air passengers and air and sea cargo that arrive into the United States each day. In fiscal year 2011, approximately 470 pest interceptions were submitted to USDA at ports of entry on a daily basis.
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.