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Philadelphia CBP Records Two Firsts for Insect Discoveries

Release Date: 
May 5, 2011

Philadelphia - Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in Philadelphia learned Wednesday that two recent insect interceptions are first discoveries for Philadelphia, and one is a first in nation discovery.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture national entomologist confirmed that a Conoderus pictus click beetle, which CBP agriculture specialists discovered in a shipment of Guatemalan bananas April 26th, and two Xylotrechus hircus longhorned beetles they discovered in a shipping container of magnesium desulphurization reagent April 28th, were the first ever reported discoveries of such insect pests in Philadelphia.

Moreover, the national entomologist reports that this was the first interception of Xylotrechus hircus beetles in the U.S.

Xylotrechus hircus

"First in Port and First in Nation insect pest discoveries hold equal parts celebration and concern for Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists," said Allan Martocci, Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. "We must temper our excitement at discovering a never before recorded insect here with the realization that these new invasive agriculture pests pose serious concerns for America's agriculture industries and a potential threat to our nation's economy."

The Xylotrechus hircus is an invasive, wood-boring insect pest from the Cerambycidae family of destructive longhorned beetles indigenous to Asia. Longhorned beetles pose a serious threat to American agriculture, to national forests and to the timber industry.

Click beetles in the larval stage can spend up to four years in the soil feeding on the root systems of common agricultural crops including potato, strawberry, corn and wheat. Click beetle control can be especially difficult because of their ability to recuperate from pesticide related sickness.

"Some people may say it's just a bug, but so was the fruit fly, emerald ash borer and now the southern pine beetle which is destroying pine forests in New Jersey," Martocci said. "Once these insect pests become established, they become costly to eradicate. That's why CBP's agriculture specialists take their mission of eradicating these potential threats at our nation's borders so serious."

CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification and ordered the importers to re-export the container of desulphurization reagent in which the longhorned beetles were discovered. That container was shipped from China.

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 4,679 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 539 insect pests.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017