Rare Pests Discovered by CBP Agriculture Specialists in Celery Shipment, Promptly Deported Back to Mexico

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has said in a statement that the agency intercepted rare insects in a shipment of fresh celery at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility.

The find is a first-in-port discovery.

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According to a press release from CBP, the fresh celery shipment arrived at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility on January 16.

“During initial inspection, a CBP Officer referred the driver and cargo load for an intensive agriculture inspection,” the statement said. “At the inspection area, CBP Agriculture Specialists conducted thorough examinations and found one live chrysomelidae and one live lepidoptera within the shipment of celery.”

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Upon finding the rare pests, the shipment was turned around and sent back to Mexico.

“The pest was submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Identifiers for further identification,” CBP said. “The traveler and shipment were then returned directly to Mexico.”

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Two days after the initial stop, on January 18, the lepidoptera was identified by the local USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) PPQ Entomologist as actionable Copitarsia species. The chrysomelidae was later identified by national specialists as actionable Isotes multipunctate (Jacoby), according to the press release.

The CBP said that “per local USDA APHIS PPQ, this qualifies as a ‘first-in-port’ for Isotes multipunctate (Jacoby) in the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility.”

“Although this not the first time finding this pest nationwide, it is a first-time discovery of this pest at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The impressive find demonstrates CBP’s efforts to prevent invasive species from entering the United States, and ways for industry to prevent conveyance contamination. CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival. For more information, travelers are encouraged to visit the Bringing Agricultural Products into the United States section of the CBP website.”

Foreign pests can be extremely harmful to local agriculture.

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“Foreign insects, plant and animal diseases, and invasive plants, can be harmful to United States agriculture. It is an important part of the CBP mission to identify and stop pests and diseases at the border prior to entering the country,” said Rosa Hernandez, CBP Otay Mesa Port Director.

Source material can be found at this site.

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