Invasive Species Alert: Ebony Bugs Blocked At US Border; Officials Say They Stopped “Pest” On Its First Try To Enter Country

United States Customs and Border Protection agents are claiming victory over an invasive “pest.” The pest is one of more than two dozen species of “ebony bugs'” The bug was found in a shipment of cut flowers coming north from Mexico. The driver and the shipment were turned around.

An ebony bug, University o f Missouri photo

How significant a pest the creature is was not stated. A call to customs yielded no answers. Apparently, the specific type ebony bug has not been found in the United States before.

What is known is that the shipment of flowers arrived at the American border in late January. For unstated reasons the shipment was subjected to “intensive” scrutiny. The bug was found. Apparently it stumped the officials at the site and was sent off for further identification.

United States Department of Agriculture specialists identified it as a Corimelaena palmieri. They describe it as a “pest” but what damage it does isn’t clear. The University of Missouri says there are up to 40 different species of the bug in North America. The university does not specify significant damage.

There is, however, a hint on the school webpage:

“Like others in the order of true bugs, ebony bugs have strawlike mouthparts that they jab into their food source and then use to suck out nutritious juices. In the case of ebony bugs, they usually feed on flowers and developing seeds. Many are especially associated with members of the carrot or parsley family (Apiaceae), so look for them on Queen Anne’s lace, rattlesnake master, fennel, dill, wild parsnip, and others.” It is therefore possible these bugs may be a threat to carrots and parsnips.

Giant African land snalils (Lissachatina fulica) have recently been found in Florida. They eat much vegetable matter but wll even eat bone.

Another thing is certain: Officials think the stop is important. CNN quoted from a release:

“Discovering a first-in-nation pest at one of our ports of entry is an extraordinary achievement,” Sidney Aki, Customs and Border Protection’s director of field operations in San Diego, said in the release. “Each year, CBP Agriculture Specialists intercept tens of thousands of pests, this accomplishment is a reflection of their immense hard work and dedication.”

As we have noted, border agents have had their hands full with invasive creatures;

Asian moths

Giant Atlas Moths

Giant African Land Snails

Customs spot thousands of invasive species annually. But some get through,

Very large joro spiders have invaded the South. They are not dangerous to humans and so far have been relatively benign. Except to their orey.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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