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How Do So Many Foreign Insect Pests Arrive In America?

June 6th, 2017

How Do So Many Foreign Insect Pests Arrive In America?

The United States is full of insect-pests. Many of these pests are not native to North America, but they still wind up on American soil. This is almost exclusively due to international shipping. Many invasive-insects from all around the world, most notably Asia, arrive in the United States by hitching rides in cargo containers. The Asian gypsy moth, the emerald ash borer and the Asian long-horned beetle are just a few of the most undesirable insect-pests that have been shipped to America from other countries.

Officials with the United States Customs and Border Protection Services are tasked with the job of checking all shipping containers for invasive insects. Every day more than 2,300 officials painstakingly inspect every shipment at every port. Last year well over seven hundred thousand shipping containers were inspected for invasive insects, and they found over one hundred and fifty five thousand foreign insect pests. Among the insect-pests that were found, over sixty six thousand of them were insect-pests of high concern.

According to Bob Vander Meer, a leading researcher with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Gainesville, Fla., customs and border control officials have an “impossible” job, and he is amazed that the US does not have more foreign insects within American borders. The progressively increasing amount of international trade is making the job of finding foreign insect pests much more difficult.

During a three year period, the Atlantic CBP office intercepted over thirty thousand invasive pests from southern ports. Among these insect-pests were Africanized bees, subterranean and drywood termites, and ninety five separate cases of ants that were of the highest concern to public health and agricultural officials. The Khapra beetle is often found as well, and these bugs can potentially stop international trade. These beetles are not easily killed as they are impervious to insecticides. Who would have thought that bugs could hinder globalization?

Do you think that invasive insects could significantly damage the economy? Which type of insect-pest do you think is most dangerous to the economy?

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