A “First in Port” pest was discovered earlier in April by an agriculture specialist with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations at the Veterans International Bridge import cargo lot in Brownsville, Texas.
On April 13, a shipment received at the import lot was designated for inspection by agriculture specialists. Upon inspection, several specimens of the insect were found in a bundle of eucalyptus branches imported as cut flowers.
An entomologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture later identified the insect as Thaumastocoris peregrinus (Carpintero & Dellapé), an actionable pest. Confirmation that the incident was a first-time interception was made on April 20, 2017, by identifiers with the USDA Plant Inspection Station.
Thaumastocoris peregrinus, a sap-sucking insect in the Hemiptera family, is not known to exist in the United States. Commonly referred to as true bugs, they feed on various species of plants, including eucalyptus. True bugs have proven to be serious pests of cultivated plants and could threaten the economic fortunes of the nursery stock industry.
As a precaution, the entire shipment of eucalyptus was sent back to Mexico.
“Our CBP agriculture specialists play an important and challenging role in protecting American agriculture,” said port director Petra Horne of the Brownsville Port of Entry. “The outstanding interception of this invasive pest, for the first time at the Port of Brownsville, exemplifies the diligence and dedication of our CBP agriculture specialists in safeguarding the agriculture of the United States.”
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