Agriculture specialists with Baltimore U.S. Customs and Border Protection have intercepted a shipment of ceramic Italian tiles that was contaminated with the Horvathiolus superbus seed bug, a potential agriculture threat pest.
The bug, known to occur in Europe, has a red body with black spots and looks like an elongated, narrowed version of a lady bug. Not much is known about this specific species, but it is classified in the Lygaeidae family of seed bugs, which damage a wide variety of plants and seeds by using their mouth parts to extract fluids. A few of the plant-feeding species are considered to be serious pests.
It was the first such reported interception in the Baltimore area, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist. CBP submitted the specimen to the local USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologist for identification.
Also in that shipment, the agency discovered an actionable snail, Xerotricha conspurcata, and an actionable stinkbug, Sciocoris sp. Customs issued an emergency action notification to the importer and ordered that the shipment be either fumigated or re-exported.
“The threat of invasive hitchhiking insect pests is very real, and an extremely serious concern for United States’ agriculture industries,” said Ricardo Scheller, director of the Port of Baltimore, in a written statement.