Agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a “rare” and damaging pest at the South Texas border earlier this month – the first time the bug has ever been spotted in the U.S.
A news release from CBP states that on May 2, agriculture specialists at the Pharr International Bridge inspected a box of fresh fruit on a commercial shipment from Mexico.
They then discovered the live pest, later identified as Cochabamba sp., amid boxes of mangosteen.
Cochabamba sp. belongs to the leaf beetle family and can cause agricultural and economic damage, the release states.
Authorities added that the larvae skeletonize leaf surfaces, and adults eat plant and tree leaves, causing damage.
They’re typically found in Central and South America and “its travel pattern indicates that it is migrating north,” the release states.
“Our 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.” Carlos Rodriguez, the director of the Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry, said in the release.
This particular batch was refused entry and sent back to Mexico.
The release stated that this is the first time Cochabamba sp. has made its way to a U.S. port of entry.