SAN JUAN, PR — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists (CBPAS) stationed at San Juan seaport recently intercepted an Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) egg mass on a ship from Europe. Each of these masses can contain hundreds of eggs of this devastating plant pest.
The interception marks the first time the destructive pest’s eggs have been discovered in Puerto Rico ports.
“CBP’s primary mission is safeguarding America’s borders and protecting the public from dangerous people and materials, while enabling legitimate travel and trade.” said Mirella Couto, CBP’s Acting Director of Field Operations in San Juan. “The introduction of AGM could have devastating effects on our agriculture industry and thus on our economic competitiveness.”
On May 6, CBPAS assigned to the San Juan Seaport inspected a vessel arriving from Europe. During a deck sweep, the agriculture specialists discovered an egg mass on a surface of the vessel and carefully scraped it off and treated the area.
The egg mass was submitted to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-PPQ) and the egg mass was determined to be a viable Lymantria dispar asiatica (Asian Gypsy Moth).
CBP has taken a strategic, proactive approach to combat this threat. AGM is a voracious pest that can eat the foliage of more than 600 different species of forest trees, shrubs, and other plants.
This pest is of particular concern because AGM has the potential to spread quickly since the female moth can fly up to 25 miles. If established in the United States, AGM could cause great damage to America’s agriculture and natural resources.
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.