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Rare, destructive pest discovered for the first time at Texas-Mexico border

The leaf beetle was hitching a ride in a shipment of fresh fruit, officials say.

PHARR, Texas — A rare pest never before seen at a U.S. port of entry was discovered this month at the Texas-Mexico border.

The Cochabamba sp., a leaf beetle usually found in Central and South America, hitched a ride in a shipment of fresh fruit at the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the insect’s travel pattern indicates it is migrating north.

CBP officers made the discovery on May 2 at the Pharr International Bridge, according to a release. A U.S. Department of Agriculture entomology laboratory confirmed the identification of the insect.

The beetles can cause agricultural and economic damage as their larvae skeletonize leaf surfaces and adults eat plant and tree leaves, causing damage to foliage.

Credit: USDA

“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 U.S.” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry.

The shipment of mangosteen was refused entry and returned to Mexico.

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