Border Patrol in Philadelphia intercepts insect stowaways in cargo from Latin America

The United States’ borders have been breached by a group of dangerous and nefarious culprits bent on proliferating and taking over vast swaths of the country.

No, this is not the nightmare scenario of Islamic State fighters sneaking across the Rio Grande, but an invasion of insect pests from places like Brazil and Costa Rica stowed away on container ships.

Agriculture specialists for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted three separate types of insidious insects that had made their way to port in Philadelphia.

In the first reported cases on the U.S., CBP nabbed some Dalmochrimnus guatemalanus, a species of seed bug, in a shipment of cassava and chayotes from Costa Rica on Nov. 7, and Stenygra setigera, from the longhorned beetle family, in a container of granite from Brazil on Nov. 17. They also found some Ceroplastes sinensis, or Chinese wax scales, in a shipment of persimmons on Nov. 20.

“Keeping these insect pests out of the United States is of grave concern for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and our agriculture specialists take their job very seriously,” Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia, said in a press release. “Holding the line against destructive insects at our nation’s borders protects America’s varied agricultural industries, and saves our nation’s economy the expense associated with eradicating and recovering from new invasive species.”

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The U.S. has strict rules on what types of creatures can make their way into the country, as many bugs pose threats to the health of both humans and livestock as well as have the potential to destroy crops.

The seed bug is a significant pest for crops, grains, shrubs and trees. The Brazilian beetle is a wood-boring pest mainly found in forests, and the Chinese wax scale attacks citrus fruits.

U.S. specialists have ordered the shipment of cassava and chayote from Costa Rica to be fumigated, while the importer of granite that contains the Brazilian beetle is deciding whether to fumigate, ship the stone back or destroy the shipment altogether.

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