Newark, N.J. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Newark Liberty International Airport intercepted a Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) in a shipment of peppers being imported into the United States from Israel.
On April 12, CBP agriculture specialists examined a cargo shipment of fresh vegetables from Tel Aviv, Israel via Cologne, Germany. While inspecting a box of 350 peppers, a live pest was detected. The specimen was submitted to the USDA Plant Inspection Station for identification. USDA confirmed the pest as Ceratitis capitata, the Mediterranean fruit fly.
Mediterranean fruit fly (or Medfly for short) is one of the most serious and destructive horticultural pests in the world. Medfly can cause serious damage to more than 250 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Apples, avocados, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmons, plums and walnuts can all be attacked and ruined by Medfly. The serious damage is caused by the female fly laying eggs under the skin of the ripening fruit. These hatch into maggots, which tunnel through the flesh of the plant, causing it to rot. Medfly can also live on several ornamental trees and weeds such as monkey apple, black nightshade and Jerusalem cherry.
"This interception is a significant success by our agriculture specialists," said Robert E. Perez, director of Field Operations for the New York Field Office. "The vigilance of our agriculture specialists has prevented these dangerous pests from ending up in our nation's crops."
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.