SAN DIEGO — A rare pest was found last month by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists while examining a shipment containing fresh celery at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility, authorities said. It was a first-time discovery of this specific pest at the port.
The incident occurred on Jan. 16 when a driver was directed for an intensive agriculture inspection, CBP stated in a news release Monday. Border agriculture specialists found one live chrysomelidae and lepidoptera within the shipment of celery during the examination.
Border officials said the pest was sent to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Identifiers for further identification.
Two days later, the local USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) PPQ Entomologist identified the lepidoptera pest as actionable Copitarsia species while the chrysomelidae was determined by national specialists as actionable Isotes multipunctate (Jacoby), according to CBP.
The Copitarsia species are agricultural pests of at least 39 crops from 19 plant families, the Entomological Society of America states on its website. They can be found throughout Mexico, and Central and South America.
“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,” said Rosa Hernandez, CBP Otay Mesa Port Director.
The traveler and shipment were returned directly to Mexico.