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New Pest Intercepted by CBP

Release Date: 
June 27, 2011

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists at the Mayaguez port of entry found a new pest within a shipment of sweet potatoes and dasheen arriving from the Dominican Republic.

This confirmed first time national interception of a variety of moth was identified by its scientific name: Lascoria sp. (Noctuidae).

A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly. There are an estimated 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth, with thousands of species not yet described. Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are crepuscular and diurnal species.

The shipment of sweet potatoes and dasheen arrived on board the M/V Chihuahua Star, a weekly ferry operation between the Mayaguez and San Juan ports of entry and the port of Santo Domingo.

All infested and contaminated shipments are safeguarded and transferred for appropriate re-export and/or destruction under CBP Agricultural Specialist custody or for treatment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine.

Invasive species include nonnative, alien, or exotic plant pests (such as insects, mollusks, weeds, or pathogens); animal and zoonotic disease pathogens, which can transmit diseases between animals and humans; or other organisms that can cause economic or environmental harm to U.S. agriculture, range, and forest systems if they enter the U.S.

While most plant pest introductions occur unintentionally as an end result of increased global travel and trade, acts of biological terrorism which threaten the U.S's agricultural and natural resources are a rising fear. Plant pests, weeds, and diseases are all potential agents of bioterrorism. Nonetheless, exporters, importers and producers should be cognizant of the U.S. phytosanitary measures before shipping/importing their products.

CBP Agriculture Specialists safeguard American agriculture by detecting and preventing entry into the country of plant pests and exotic foreign animal diseases that could harm agricultural resources. They do this with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the U.S. These items, whether in commercial cargo or as "hitchhikers" with an international airline/vessel, passenger or a pedestrian crossing the border, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock, and the environment.

For more detailed information on these and other pests, the public can consult the following link on the USDA/APHIS website. (USDA/APHIS )

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017