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San Juan CBP protects a holiday symbol: the Christmas tree

Release Date: 
December 1, 2011

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Insects can find the most inconspicuous places to hide and could have significant effects on the local economy. Even on a traditional holiday symbol: the Christmas tree.

Always vigilant of the potential danger, recently CBP Agriculture Specialists along with U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine officers and Puerto Rico Health Department officials intercepted two types of insects on a shipment of pine trees from Canada.

The insects found were; a flea beetle, (Longitarsus sp. (Chrysomelidae)), and a white pine weevil (Pissodes Sp. (Curculionidae)).

Flea beetles may take small bites, but they can add up to big problems. Their feeding on the leaves of solanaceous crops like eggplant, peppers, and tomato can delay the establishment of seedlings or even kill them. Flea beetles attack leaves and in their larval stage, they feed on roots.

Weevil attacks cause four types of damage on pine trees in particular, growth reduction, stem deformation, increased susceptibility to wood decay organisms, and tree mortality. They are also known to attack other types of trees.

All infested and contaminated shipments with actionable pests or violations are safeguarded and transferred for appropriate re-export and/or destruction under CBP agriculture specialist custody or treatment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ).

Invasive species include non-native, alien, or exotic plant pests (such as insects, mollusks, weeds, or pathogens); animal and zoonotic disease pathogens, or other organisms that can cause economic or environmental harm to U.S. agriculture, range, and forest systems if they enter the United States.

While most plant pest introductions occur unintentionally as an end result of increased global travel and trade, acts of biological terrorism which threaten the United States' agricultural and natural resources are a rising concern. Plant pests, weeds, and diseases are all potential agents of bioterrorism.

CBP recommends exporters, importers and producers to be cognizant of the U.S. Phytosanitary measures and packing procedures before shipping/importing their products.

Nonetheless, CBP agriculture specialists safeguard American agriculture by demonstrating careful diligence as they examine imported shipments detecting and preventing entry into the country of plant pests and exotic foreign animal diseases that could harm agricultural resources. They do this with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items, whether in commercial cargo or as "hitchhikers" with an international airline/vessel passenger or a pedestrian crossing the border, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock, and the environment.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021