U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists assigned to the Otay Mesa cargo facility intercepted a rare pest while inspecting a cargo shipment on July 19 when a shipment containing pocket leaves arrived at the facility. A CBP officer referred the driver and cargo for an intensive agriculture inspection during the initial inspection of the shipment.

CBP agriculture specialists discovered an unusual insect within the pocket leaves while inspecting the cargo. The pest was submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for further identification. Agriculture specialists, using appropriate precautionary measures, then returned the shipment and driver to Mexico.

A final identification of the pest was made on August 3rd as Rhabdotalebra signata. This species has not been recorded in the USDA pest identification database, qualifying this discovery as a first across all ports in the nation. The impressive find demonstrates CBP’s efforts to prevent invasive species from entering the United States.

CBP officials refused the entry of a cargo shipment containing a pest never recorded before in the Department of Agriculture's pest identification database.

“It is truly a remarkable achievement discovering a first-of-its-kind pest in our nation. Our agriculture specialists’ role will continue to aid in safeguarding our environment and agriculture,” stated Rosa Hernandez, Otay Mesa Port Director.

People and industries who wish to import flowers, plant materials, and other agricultural items should visit the Bringing Agricultural Products into the United States section of CBP’s website for ways to prevent conveyance contamination. CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.