The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed on Friday that nine egg masses that Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists discovered on a merchant ship June 2 was a first reported discovery in Maryland.
Using DNA analysis, USDA entomologist identified the egg masses as Paracles azollae, a moth species known to occur in Argentina, and a first local reported discovery of this species. CBP discovered the egg masses on various parts of the M/V Star Kinn including at the bridge and mooring station. The M/V Star Kinn is a general cargo vessel that arrived from Brazil.
One day earlier, CBP agriculture specialists discovered one egg mass on the exterior of a shipping container of aluminum billets from India. The USDA entomologist identified the egg mass as Lymantria dispar asiatica/japonica, the highly destructive Asian/Japanese gypsy moth (AGM).
CBP removed the egg masses, treated the container and vessel with a pest spray oil, and submitted specimens to the USDA entomologist for identification.
Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) is one of the most destructive insect pests in the world. AGM are not known to occur in the United States.
According to the USDA, AGM poses a significant threat to our nation’s forests and urban landscapes. AGM are known to be extremely mobile — females can travel up to 25 miles per day — are attracted to lights, can lay egg masses that could yield hundreds of hungry caterpillars, and is itself a voracious eater that attacks more than 500 species of trees and plants.
“These invasive pest interceptions illustrate the critical border security role that Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists perform in safeguarding America’s agricultural and natural resources every day,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “CBP agriculture specialists will continue to mitigate potential threats, from destructive insect pests to highly pathogenic plant and animal diseases, which could significantly impact our nation’s economic vitality.”
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection, inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States.
During a typical day last year, CBP agriculture specialists across the nation seized 4,695 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil, and intercepted 314 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry. See what else CBP achieved on a typical day during 2019.