McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Border agricultural specialists in South Texas found a banned beetle in a truck shipment of agave leaves in the first such sighting of this pest in the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Monday.

Officials at the Roma International Bridge in Starr County on July 18 spotted the longhorn beetle, which has been identified as Acanthoderes funeraria Bates (Cerambycidae), inside a tractor-trailer shipment of maguey leaves, CBP officials said.

Maguey leaves are commonly known as agave, which is used to make mezcal, an alcoholic beverage.

A CBP agriculture specialist inspects produce. (Photo from CBP website)

Longhorn beetles feed on wood and plants and are banned in the United States because they are considered invasive pests that can damage U.S. agriculture crops.

CBP’s agricultural specialists regularly check shipments of fresh produce that cross from Mexico into South Texas searching for unwanted pests as well as crops that are banned in the United States.

The find was crucial to protecting U.S. farmers, CBP officials said.

“Our frontline CBP agriculture specialists at Roma Port of Entry examine a significant amount of fresh produce shipments on a daily basis and their tenacity and dedication to the mission of safeguarding American agriculture led to their discovery of this first in nation pest interception,” Roma Port Director Andres Guerra said.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com