Philadelphia -The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday that Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists recorded two first discoveries of insect pests recently with the interception of first-in-nation Steriastoma albiceps Bales (Cerambycidae), a member of the long-horned beetle family, and a first-in-port Oxyelophila, species of (Crambidae), a member of the grass moth family.
Cerambycidae are serious threats to trees and timber. They are related to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle, an invasive species believed to have been introduced into the United States in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1996 in wood pallets and wood packing material from Asia. The ALB is a serious threat to hardwood tress and has no known predator.
Crambidae larvae are typically known as stem borers, having the capability to cause extensive damage to crops of high economic value such as corn, sugarcane, rice and grain crops. The USDA national entomologist identified this moth as a "new pest" and annotated that this "genus occurs in Texas, but this species does not occur in the U.S. Nothing is known about its biology."
CBP agriculture specialists discovered the Steriastoma albiceps beetle while inspecting nearly 6,000 cases of Costa Rican pineapples March 12, and discovered the Oxyelophila moth while inspecting 960 cases of Colombian bananas March 14. They submitted both pests urgent to the local USDA entomologist, who then submitted it urgent to a national entomologist.
"Protecting America's agriculture industry is an enormous responsibility, and Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists take their job very seriously," said Allan Martocci, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. "Each CBP insect pest interception emphasizes the importance of their efforts. First-in-Nation and First-in-Port insect pest discoveries are worth noting as both a significant milestone and as a warning to a new potential agriculture threat."
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification that required the containers to be thoroughly fumigated.
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 4,291 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 454 insect pests.
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.