NORFOLK, Va.— U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Norfolk discovered a wood boring pest confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a First in the Nation, a new pest never seen before in the United States. This confirmed, first time, national interception of a variety of pest, Pityophthorus glabratus Eichhoff, a bark beetle which was first described in 1878 in Europe. CBP agriculture specialists discovered this new pest among untreated wooden pallets from Poland.
The intercepted bark beetle is more commonly known by the subfamily Scolytinae - worldwide there are 6,000 species of beetles in this subfamily. Bark beetles are so-named because they live, feed and reproduce in and under the bark of trees. Once an outbreak gets out of control, healthy trees become infested and succumb to the devastating effects of uncontrollable damage to the tissues that serve to transport water and nutrients throughout the tree.
According to the US Forest Service website, as of 2011, an unprecedented bark beetle mortality of 41.7 million acres of forests has occurred in the United States – primarily in the western states. The tree mortality rate, due to bark beetle infestations, has increased over the last decade, affecting spruce, lodgepole, pinyon-juniper, and ponderosa forests, and has been exacerbated by increasing temperatures and drought conditions. The U.S. forest product industry produces $200 billion in sales a year and employs about one million workers.
“This is another example of our agriculture specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry,” said Mark J Laria, Area Port Director for the Port of Norfolk.
All infested and contaminated shipments are safeguarded and transferred for appropriate re-export and/or destruction under CBP agriculture specialist supervision, or for treatment according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine requirements.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day nationally, they inspect over 1 million people as well as air and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,447 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 425 agriculture pests and diseases.
Visit Protecting Agriculture webpage for more information.
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.