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Wilmington, Del., CBP Intercepts Rare Destructive Leafhopper Pest Seen Only Once Before in the U.S.

Release Date: 
March 23, 2015

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists examine thousands of import shipments that arrive to the U.S. every day. Oftentimes, they intercept a lineup of the usual suspects of invasive weeds and hitchhiking insect pests that threaten our nation’s agriculture industries and economy. Occasionally, they find an insect species rarely ever seen in the U.S.

Such as the leafhopper that CBP agriculture specialists discovered in a shipment of Guatemalan bananas at the Port of Wilmington, Del., March 16.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted the area's first recorded Scaris (Cicadellidae) species of leafhopper in a shipment of Guatemalan bananas at the Port of Wilmington, Del., March 16, 2015.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted the area's first recorded Scaris (Cicadellidae) species of leafhopper in a shipment of Guatemalan bananas at the Port of Wilmington, Del., March 16, 2015.

A local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist identified the specimen as Scaris sp. (Cicadellidae), a species of leafhopper that occurs in the Central and South America. The national USDA pest interception database verified the interception today as a first-in-port discovery, and a species encountered only one other time, in Miami in 2005.

“Protecting America’s agriculture against destructive insect pests is of paramount concern to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and being recognized for a first-in-port pest interception is rewarding,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “CBP agriculture specialists are very serious about their mission, and quietly carry out their important work every day.”

Leafhoppers are threats to crop plants. They rob plants of vital nutrients and transmit viruses, bacteria and other infectious pathogens from plant to plant.

CBP completed the examination and released the banana shipment to the importer.

Invasive species in general cause an estimated $136 billion in lost agriculture revenue annually. Visit USDA National Invasive Species for more information on invasive threats to U.S. agriculture.

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences, risk analysis, and in imported agriculture inspection techniques. CBP agriculture specialists are the first line of defense in the protection of U.S. agriculture, forest and livestock industries from exotic destructive plant pests and animal diseases.

On a typical day nationally, CBP agriculture specialists inspect almost 1 million travelers to the U.S., and a significant amount of air and sea cargo imported to the United States. They intercept 4,379 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 440 insect pests.

Please visit CBP’s Agriculture Protection webpage to learn how CBP safeguards our nation’s economy by protecting our agriculture industries.

CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA’s, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) to protect our nation’s agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plants, plant pests, and animal diseases.

Read more about the USDA’s APHIS, PPQ program.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017