U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) process millions of Valentine’s Day flowers annually to ensure they are pest and disease-free.
Imported flowers may carry hitchhiking pests and diseases that could cause millions of dollars in damage to the U.S. economy. While the vast majority of flowers entering the country are safe, even one hitchhiking pest or plant disease can cause significant damage to American agriculture.
“I am proud of the work of our agriculture specialists,” said Linda Brown, Area Port Director for the Port of Boston. “It’s critically important not only to consumers, but to the vitality of the U.S. economy that cut flower imports are carefully inspected by CBP.”
During the 2018 Valentine’s Day season, CBP agriculture specialists nationwide intercepted 2,992 pests that could have caused serious damage to America’s crops, livestock, and the environment. In the same period, approximately 1.4 billion cut flower stems were processed compared to 1.09 billion stems during the 2017 season, an increase of 33 percent.
Historically, Valentine’s Day is the second busiest time for cut flower importations. Mother’s Day is the busiest.
If pests or diseases are found, the shipments may be treated and released, re-exported or destroyed. Examples of past interceptions found on flowers by Boston CBP agriculture specialists include species of Margarodidae, Arion and Miridae, commonly known as mealy bugs, slugs, and plant or leaf bugs, respectively.
The top three types of flower shipments in the U.S. during the Valentine’s season last year were roses, mixed bouquets and rose bouquets. Most of the flower shipments are imported from South America, primarily Colombia and Ecuador.