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August 31, 09

NEWS / CBP Agriculture Specialist Intercepts Mysterious Insect

Miami — An insect never before encountered in the U.S. was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Miami International airport last week.

A CBP agriculture specialist examined a sample box of Protea cut flowers August 20 and intercepted a Hemiptera. Hemiptera’s are typically aphids, cicadas, and leaf hoppers and they comprise about 80,000 different species. The interception was forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Miami Plant Inspection Station and it was identified as Uttaris pallidipennis Stal by the local USDA entomology specialist. The genus Uttaris contains only this single species.

Knowledge of this insect’s biology is very limited, although it is known to feed on the seed heads of grasses and sedges. This particular species is only known to occur in South Africa.

This is the first time that this particular species has been intercepted in the United States. Though it is not known what this species is capable of, the potential for an introduced species to cause great economic harm is always present.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection Field Operations in Miami is actively engaged in all aspects of our mission to protect the homeland,” said Harold Woodward, director of operations for Customs and Border Protection in Miami. “CBP agriculture specialists and CBP officers take great pride in, and produce significant results in the performance of their duties.”


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