Customs agriculture specialists in Texas intercept rare pest

PHARR, Texas — Customs agriculture specialists discovered a rare pest in a shipment of fresh fruit at the Texas-Mexico border, officials announced Monday.

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In a news release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials discovered the insect at the Pharr International Bridge on May 2 while inspecting a box of fruit on a commercial shipment from Mexico.

The pest, identified as Cochabamba sp., was found among boxes of mangosteen, CBP officials said in the release. It was the first time the insect had been found in the U.S., according to U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologists.

Customs officials refused entry to the shipment and returned it to Mexico, KSAT-TV reported.

Cochabamba sp. belongs to the leaf beetle family and can cause agricultural and economic damage, according to the release. The insect is usually found in Central America and South America, according to KVUE-TV.

Customs officials said the insect’s travel pattern indicates it is migrating north, the television station reported.

“Our agriculture specialists help protect American agriculture and contribute to the nation’s economic security by denying entry to invasive species not known to exist in the U.S.,” Carlos Rodriguez, port director for the Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry, said in a statement.

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