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Two Destructive Pests Stopped By CBP Agriculture Specialist in San Diego

Release Date: 
November 15, 2012

San Diego - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at the port of San Diego stopped two destructive pests from entering the country and potentially damaging our agriculture industry.

On Thursday, October 25, a passenger arrived to the San Diego International Airport on a flight from England. A CBP agriculture specialist screening passenger baggage at the x-ray machine noticed an anomaly inside a passenger's bag and referred it for an intensive inspection. The agriculture specialist physically examined the bag and discovered more than four pounds of lentils from India, a prohibited commodity.

Khapra beetle larvae located by CBP Ag Specialists

Upon further inspection of the lentils, the agriculture specialist discovered live larvae that turned out be a Trogoderma granarium Everts, otherwise known as khapra beetle. This is the first time khapra beetle has been intercepted at the port of San Diego in the passenger environment. The lentils were destroyed.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the khapra beetle is one of the world's most destructive pests of grain products and seeds. Populations of this pest can build rapidly in a short time under hot, dry conditions. Grain damage, depending on existing conditions, often reaches 30 percent and up to 70 percent damage has been reported. In the United States, infestation can result in the loss of export markets. If khapra beetle became established in the United States, other countries would likely place restrictions on imports of U.S. grain, cereal products, or seed.

On October 29, a maritime container from Ecuador with a shipment of bananas was offloaded for inspection at the port of San Diego. A CBP agriculture specialist examined the floor of the container and found a large adult weevil. The agriculture specialist submitted the pest to the USDA for identification. The USDA identifier notified CBP that the final identification of the pest was Rhynchophorus palmarum Linnaeus, otherwise known as South American palm weevil. The container was re-exported per direction from USDA.

According to California Department of Food and Agriculture, the South American Palm Weevil (SAPW) originates from Central and South America and causes economic damage during the larval stage. When the larvae feed on the growing tissues in the crown of the palm, they often destroy the apical growth area and subsequently cause death of the palm. Populations of only 30 larvae have been reported as sufficient to cause the death of an adult coconut palm.

"Intercepting these pests protects the American agricultural industry from the expense of eradication, and the hardship of finding their crops damaged by new dangers," said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego. "By stopping invasive pests at the border, before they can enter the United States, CBP officers and agriculture specialists protect our vital economy."

Agriculture specialists protect the United States from the threat of invasive plant pests and foreign animal diseases with inspection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the United States. These items, whether in commercial cargo or with a person entering the country, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock, environment and potentially public health.

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 terriost weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017