Ag specialists intercept rare pest at U.S.-Mexico border

Ag specialists intercept rare pest at U.S.-Mexico border
May 11, 2022

Inspectors discovered the Cochabamba sp. beetle in a fresh fruit shipment

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists recently intercepted a potential agricultural intruder trying to enter the U.S.

On May 2, specialists at the Pharr cargo facility at the Pharr International Bridge in Texas examined a shipment of fresh fruit entering the United States from Mexico.

Inside the shipment, within a box of mangosteen, was a black and yellow insect.

Scientists at a United States Department of Agriculture lab confirmed the insect as a Cochabamba sp. beetle.

“This pest can cause agricultural and economic damage as their larvae skeletonize the leaf surface and adults eat plant and tree leaves and cause damage to foliage,” a May 9 statement from CBP says.

This discovery marks the first time this pest has been found at a U.S. port of entry.

The beetle is found in Central and South America. Its travel pattern indicates it’s migrating north, CBP officials said.

CBP refused entry to the shipment and returned it to Mexico.

The Cochabamba sp. belongs to the leaf beetle family, which also includes southern corn leaf beetles and bean leaf beetles.

This marks the second CBP pest discovery in just over two months.

In March, specialists discovered a pest inside an airplane arriving at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico from Senegal.

Scientists at the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service identified the insect as Ammocleonus sp., known as true weevils or snout beetles.

“Our officers and agriculture specialists help protect American agriculture and contribute to the nation’s economic security by denying entry to invasive species not known to exist in the U.S,” Gregory Alvarez, director of CBP field operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said in a March 4 statement. "What appears to be a harmless insect can cause significant harm to our economic vitality.

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