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US customs officers find this rare pest for the first time

By Zoe Sottile, CNN

Customs officers at the US-Mexico border found an unwanted passenger hitching a ride in a shipment of fresh fruit: Cochabamba sp. — a rare pest never before seen at a US port of entry.

The discovery was made May 2 by US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Pharr International Bridge in Texas, says a news release from the agency.

The pest, a species of leaf beetle, was inside a shipment of mangosteen from Mexico. Usually found in central and south America, the beetles can “cause agricultural and economic damage as their larvae skeletonize the leaf surface and adults eat plant and tree leaves and cause damage to foliage,” says the release.

The destructive beetles have never before been found at any of the US ports of entry, according to Customs and Border Protection. The shipment was returned to Mexico.

“Our agriculture specialists help protect American agriculture and contribute to the nation’s economic security by denying entry to invasive species not known to exist in the US,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez in the news release.

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