When you hear the words “locusts” and “Egypt,” the first things that come to mind aren’t pretty: Plague, disease, and crop destruction — on biblical proportions. And the image gets even worse when you think about those pests entering the United States.
That’s where U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agricultural specialists step in. Specialists at the Port of Detroit recently intercepted an Egyptian locust during a container inspection at a local railyard.
The discovery occurred during the examination of inbound cargo from Italy, and the specimen was positively identified by CBP and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials. The container was quarantined and subsequently fumigated before the cargo was allowed to enter U.S. commerce safely.
The elusive Egyptian locust is considered an invasive species not known to occur in the United States, though it is commonly found in Europe. The locust is a voracious leaf feeder and threatens numerous crops found in Michigan, including grapevines and various vegetable plants.
This is believed to be only the third time the Port of Detroit has encountered the Egyptian locust.
“This interception demonstrates the importance of protecting our food supply and the challenging mission of CBP agriculture specialists at our ports of entry,” said John Nowak, Acting Port Director for the Port of Detroit. “Not only do agriculture specialists work hard to intercept invasive insects and plants, but they also play a critical role in stopping the increased threat of biological agents that could seriously harm our citizens and livestock.”
International cargo, to include wood packing materials, is routinely examined for potential threats to people, U.S. agriculture, and natural resources. On a typical day in Fiscal Year 2022, CBP discovered 240 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 2,677 items for quarantine.
Travelers are encouraged to learn more about how they can help keep America safe from agriculture threats.
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Author: Heidi Crnkovic