US CBP Agriculture Specialists Stop the “Pest-ering” at Otay Mesa with a First-in-Nation Discovery

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists had a remarkable finding that will go down in history. A first-in-nation pest was discovered at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility within a shipment containing fresh cut flowers.

On Oct. 23, 2022, CBP officers encountered a tractor-trailer with a shipment manifested as cut flowers. During initial inspection, a CBP officer referred the driver and cargo load for an intensive agriculture inspection.

While inspecting the commodities, CBP Agriculture Specialists (CBPAS) intercepted an unusual insect within the cut flowers. The pest was submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Identifiers, who forwarded the specimen digitally to a laboratory for further identification. CBPAS used precautionary measures and the shipment and driver was returned to Mexico.

On Jan. 25, according to the final pest identification, the laboratory identified the pest to be Corimelaena palmeri, which is a first-time interception of this pest in the nation and has not been recorded in the USDA Pest Identification database.

“Discovering a first-in-nation pest at one of our ports of entry is an extraordinary achievement,” said Sidney Aki, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “Each year, CBP Agriculture Specialists intercept tens of thousands of pests, this accomplishment is a reflection of their immense hard work and dedication.”