CBP inspectors thwart pest threat in Los Angeles
U.S. farmers and consumers may be been spared the economic costs of a new pest infestation when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist at Los Angeles International Airport recently intercepted mealy bugs and two other foreign pests harbored in shipments of imported plants and fresh cut flowers.
The agency said the interception occurred July 19 during an examination of a shipment of 242 pounds of plantain leaves and fernaldia from Guatemala. Plantain is a type of banana generally used in cooking. Fernaldia is a species of flower used in cooking Central American dishes. The mealy bug attacks plants, especially citrus trees.
CBP said the insects have never been seen in the continental United States.
The importer, a Commerce, Calif.-based food distributor, opted to destroy the shipment under CBP supervision.
Two other pests were also found by the agriculture specialists. The pseudococcus eucalypticus, an insect that attacks a wide variety of plants, such as myrtles, and contarinia or diptera, commonly called gall midge, which have been known to attack young crop plants causing widespread damage.
Both shipments of fresh cut flowers arrived from Australia.
Last week CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham toured the agency’s agriculture inspection facilities at the Port of Oakland and highlighted the importance of stopping invasive species from entering the country.