Memphis Holiday Miracle! First-in-the-Nation Beetle Larvae Intercepted
MEMPHIS - On Thursday, October 27, 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists in Memphis, TN intercepted a first-in-the-nation beetle larvae in a Christmas wreath kit.
The shipment, which lacked necessary documentation, was en route from Norwich, England to a residential address in Connecticut. It contained 12 kits to create your own Christmas wreaths, with each kit containing a bag of fresh peat moss. After examining samples of the moss, ten pests were identified with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with two requiring special action.
According to the USDA, Chaetocnema aridula (Gyllenhal 1827) is a beetle larvae and was confirmed as never before seen in the nation. It can present serious agricultural risks to crops, and is found distributed in wheat, barley, and rye fields of Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Europe. The other insect requiring action was Elateridae. It is from a family also known as “Click Beetles,” known for their unusual ability to click and jump. If they are on their backs, they can jump to right themselves, while many other beetles cannot. They pose serious threats to American agriculture, especially cereal plants. The other eight pests intercepted were commonly found and not any particular threat.
Area Port Director Michael Neipert commended his employees. “If our vigilant Agriculture Specialists had not intercepted these, then this never-before-seen pest could potentially have entered our ecosystem and wreaked havoc on America's agriculture and natural resources. Think of the infamous Khapra Beetle.”
First-in-the-nation seizures occur infrequently, and when The Smithsonian assists in identifying one, they request to keep it for their collection.
All potentially contaminated material in the shipment was destroyed by steam sterilization under authority of (7 CFR 330) for general plant pests.
This seizure took place within the Area Port of Memphis, which covers ports of entry throughout the state of Tennessee and falls under CBP’s New Orleans Field Office.
The New Orleans Field Office includes all ports in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.