U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina have intercepted a container, carrying aluminum scrap metal from Costa Rica, that was infested with more than a dozen different crawling and flying insects.
The specialists collected and forwarded more than 10 different insect specimens to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologist. USDA identified one of the insects as the Pheidole species, commonly referred to as a “bigheaded ant.”
The bigheaded ant is considered to be a serious invasive ant species and has been nominated as among 100 of the “world’s worst” invaders, CBP said in a written statement. It threatens the biodiversity of its surroundings by harboring insects that decrease plant productivity and by harvesting seeds. In addition to being a threat to natural resources, it has been reported that some species are known to chew on irrigation pipes, telephone cabling and electrical wires.
“Previous introductions of bigheaded ants in Hawaii have put many native insects at risk, adding many to the threatened or endangered species list,” said John Weaver, USDA area identifier. “It probably will cause many species extinctions and probably already has.”
As a result of the discovery, the shipment will be required to undergo extensive fumigation.