Published On: Wed, Aug 29th, 2018

Customs and Border Protection nabs ‘destructive Asian Gypsy Moth’ eggs in Baltimore

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratory confirmed August 17 that three egg masses that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists discovered on a vehicle transport ship August 2 in Baltimore were the highly destructive Asian Gypsy Moth.

This is the second interception of Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) egg masses on a vehicle carrier in nine days for Baltimore CBP agriculture specialists.

male Asian Gypsy Moth photo/ Didier Descouens

During a routine inspection of the M/V Volans Leader, CBP agriculture specialists encountered three egg masses in the crow’s nest and one egg mass on a bulkhead below the bridge.  The USDA confirmed a fourth egg mass as Lymantria Mathura, also known as Rosy Gypsy Moth, and another actionable agriculture threat.

The vessel made a June port call in Japan, a high-risk AGM area.

CBP agriculture specialists removed the egg masses and treated the area.  Agriculture specialists submitted the specimens to the USDA pest identifier who confirmed the egg masses as AGM.

“Once again, sharp Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists detected and quickly mitigated a potentially serious threat posed by the highly invasive and destructive Asian Gypsy Moth,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of the Baltimore Field Office. “CBP agriculture specialists continue to protect our nation’s agriculture and our economy through extraordinary vigilance and stringent inspections of merchant vessels and their cargo.”

On July 25, Baltimore CBP agriculture specialists discovered AGM egg masses on the M/V Gaia Leader.

According to the USDA, AGM poses a significant threat to our nation’s forests and urban landscapes as it is known to be extremely mobile – females can travel up to 25 miles per day – can lay egg masses that could yield hundreds of hungry caterpillars, and is itself a voracious eater that attacks more than 500 species of trees and plants.

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), officials first detected AGM in North America in 1991 near Vancouver, Canada.  After that, AGM was detected in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.  Since then, there have been several reported AGM infestations in North Carolina and the Pacific Northwest.  Federal and state agriculture specialists eradicated all of those infestations by trapping and spraying.

CBP agriculture specialists perform a critical border security role in safeguarding America’s agricultural and natural resources from harmful pests and plant diseases.  They have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection, inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States.

On a typical day last year, CBP agriculture specialists seized 4,638 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil, and intercepted 352 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry.


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