Customs agents find invasive, harmful insects in shipment of celery from Mexico

Customs agents find invasive, harmful insects in shipment of celery from Mexico

Feb. 13 (UPI) — Federal agents in California located two harmful insects at the busiest commercial port in the state, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed in a statement Monday.

The agency’s agricultural specialists discovered the pests in a shipment of fresh celery at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif.

The lepidoptera pest was identified by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Jan. 18. Lepidoptera is an order of insects, which includes butterflies and moths.

The species of lepidoptera has previously been located in the United States, but the discovery marks the first time the invasive Copitarsia species was found at the port, which handles 1 million trucks, 5 million vehicles and 2.1 million pedestrians annually.

The shipment and person carrying it were returned to Mexico.

The insect, itself, was handed over to the United States Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Quarantine.

Agents also located and retrieved a live chrysomelidae that was also deemed actionable by specialists and later identified as Isotes multipunctate, a species of leaf beetle.

“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,” CBP Otay Mesa Port Director Rosa Hernandez said in a statement.

“The impressive find demonstrates CBP’s efforts to prevent invasive species from entering the United States, and ways for industry to prevent conveyance contamination,” the agency said in a statement.

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