Gazebo Gazette

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) specialists working at the Port of Gulfport found two first-in-Mississippi pest discoveries in fruit shipments during the month of March.

The first discovery was identified as a a weevil species that is prohibited in the United States because of the damage it causes forests and trees. The detection of the pest was March 9 when a shipment of fresh pineapples were referred to the agriculture specialists for inspection.

Upon review, the CBP specialists found the pest and submitted it for identification to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist, who confirmed the species, commonly known as snout weevils. The family of this insect is a large with about 3,000 species found in North America, including snout beetles and true weevils.  Although the species vary in size and shape, they are characterized by distinctively long snouts with antennae rising from the middle of the snout.

The second was discovered March 30 in a shipment of fresh bananas and identified as a Scarabaeidae Beetle. There are more than 30,000 species of scarabs, often found in Costa Rica.

These insects are stout-bodied beetles; many with bright metallic colors.  Their larvae; called grubs, are C-shaped and are pale yellow or white.  The grubs mostly live underground or under debris, so are not exposed to sunlight. Many scarabs are scavengers that recycle dung, carrion, or decaying plant material.  Others, such as the Japanese beetle, are plant-eaters.

“To find an insect this small in such a large shipment not one, but twice, speaks to the dedication and professionalism of our agriculture specialists here in Gulfport,” said Gulfport Port Director Rodolfo Chacon. “I’m proud of the great work they do each day to protect the nation’s agriculture.”

The snout weevil was first discovered in the United States in a shipment of corn that was seized by CBP agriculture specialists in Brownville, Texas. Since then, it has been intercepted at ports in Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The Scarabaeidae Beetle has previously been discovered in Philadelphia and Miami.

CBP agriculture specialists discovered 314 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 4,695 plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil materials for quarantine on a typical da. The Port of Gulfport is assigned to CBP’s New Orleans Office of Field, which includes ports in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama.