Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted an Agallia constricta cubana, a leafhopper, while inspecting an air cargo shipment of basil from Mexico on Dec. 17, a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist confirmed Jan. 9.
The leafhopper belongs to a family of cicadellidae.
Leafhoppers are known to transmit viruses and bacteria to other plants that can affect plant growth, fruit production and can make the plant susceptible to infections by other pathogens, according to CBP.
“CBP agriculture specialists take their job of detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests very seriously,” said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington said in a prepared statement. “This is another example of our agriculture specialist performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry.”
The leafhopper was discovered in a 41 box shipment of basil from Mexico. CBP forwarded the leafhopper to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification.
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer requiring the shipment to be re-exported or destroyed. The importer decided to have the shipment destroyed by steam sterilization under CBP agriculture specialist supervision.
CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA’s, APHIS, PPQ to protect the country’s agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.
On a typical day, CBP agricultural specialists inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the U.S. and seize 4,291 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 470 insect pests.
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