By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Agricultural specialists with U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted two pests in recent months identified as “first-in-port” and “first-in-nation” at the Otay Mesa cargo crossing in San Diego, federal officials announced last week.
Most recently, agricultural specialists discovered three species of Pseudococcidae, also known as mealybugs, in a shipment of rambutan fruit that arrived June 22. The specialists identified the species of bug and confirmed it was a “first-in-port” interception, CBP officials announced.
Many species of the mealybugs are “considered pests as they feed on plant juices of plants and trees and act as a vector for several plant diseases,” officials said in a news release Friday. CBP added that in recent years, “some mealybug species have become invasive pests in localities posing a great problem to the new agro-ecosystems.”
In an earlier incident that occured in May, officials at the Otay Mesa cargo facility found a live beetle in a shipment of flowers from Mexico. After identification, the beetle was identified to be a Dihammaphora hispida, a “first-in-port” and “first-in-nation” interception.
According to CBP, longhorn beetle larvae feed on plant tissue, often in injured trees. The larvae “bore into wood, where they can cause widespread injury to either living trees or untreated lumber, causing extensive economic damage,” CBP said.
Agricultural specialists sent both trucks back to Mexico out of precaution, officials said.
“I praise our CBP agriculture specialists for being vigilant and for preventing these pests from entering our beautiful country which could have caused a major economic disaster,” Anne Maricich, CBP deputy director of Field Operations in San Diego, said in a statement.
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.