SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Border officers discovered a rare pest while inspecting a shipment of pocket leaves at the Otay Mesa cargo facility last month.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists were called in after the suspicious pest was initially found.
The officers identified it as a Rhabdotalebra signata, which looks like a small moth.
It was sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for confirmation, and CBP is now reporting the pest was in fact what officers suspected.
The pest, known as a “leaf jumper,” is native to Central America.
According to CBP, this species had not been recorded in the USDA pest identification database, meaning it has never been discovered in the U.S.
“It is truly a remarkable achievement discovering a first-of-its-kind pest in our nation,” said Rosa Hernandez, Otay Mesa Port Director. “Our agriculture specialists’ role will continue to aid in safeguarding our environment and agriculture.”
According to Agriculture Department, this pest is dangerous because it can eat large amounts of leaves and has been known to transmit diseases and plagues.
After the initial discovery, the shipment of pocket leaves and driver were returned to Mexico.