Fresh fruit shipped into the U.S. contained a rare, destructive and invasive pest inside — and it was still alive, officials say.
Agriculture specialists with Customs and Border Protection were inspecting the fruit shipment from Mexico on May 2 when they found the bug inside boxes of mangosteen, according to a May 9 news release.
After finding the insect at the Pharr cargo facility on the Texas border, officials sent it to a Department of Agriculture entomology laboratory for identification. Border agents also refused the fruit shipment and sent it back to Mexico.
The pest has since been identified as Cochabamba sp., a member of the leaf beetle family.
“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,” according to the news release. “This pest is found in central and south America and its travel pattern indicates that it is migrating north.”
Experts do not believe the species is already in the U.S, saying this was the first time one of the pests was found at a port of entry. Officials say this was a “first in nation discovery.”
“Pests that are not known to occur in the U.S. may be detrimental to the nation’s agriculture industry,” officials said.