Friday, May 17, 2013

More invasive species detected at US ports in the Mid Atlantic

               Insect as well as plant and animal species from around the world can hitch a ride in a manner of speaking, on cargo shipments, moving from their native lands to exotic foreign destinations, and sometimes stay and establish a new home. Ports of entry like Baltimore and Norfolk are doorways to establishment of species that may impact livelihoods by altering the characteristic services of ecological systems.

               The front-line of defense is the U. S. CBP,
"one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest and most complex components, with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. It also has a responsibility for securing the border and facilitating lawful international trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations, including immigration and drug laws. Amopng other tasks," CBP performs two crucial roles in facilitating trade to and from the U.S. and around the globe: securing it from acts of terrorism and assuring that goods arriving in the U.S. are legitimate and that appropriate duties and fees are paid."[1]

Working with USDA ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory and USDA APHIS Plant Inspection Stations, and APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ). the organizations work to protect American jobs, businesses and the ecosystems that support them. Recent interceptions of non-native and potentially harmful insect species provide  highlights of the impossible nature of their underfunded mission. USDA APHIS PPQ reported at the Maryland Invasive Species Council's May 2013 meeting the following interceptions.

Macroglossum stellatarum

               At the port in Norfolk, Virginia CBP intercepted for the first time, Macroglossum stellatarum  Linnaeus (1758), the hummingbird hawk-moth. The moth is found though out most of Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. While the species is unable to survive cold winters, the adults are strong enough fliers that they seasonally migrate from the Mediterranean region North to Sweden & Iceland. The Encyclopedia of Life notes that
"The hummingbird hawk-moth is named for its long proboscis (straw like mouth) and its hovering behavior, which, accompanied by an audible humming noise, give it remarkable resemblance to a hummingbird as it visits flowers to feed on nectar."[2]
Humans see various shades of dull brown or grey in the forewings of the moth. On the other hand, they reveal characteristic fluorescent yellow, violet, purple and green patterns under ultraviolet light . Thus to birds and other insects the moth is most likely brightly patterned.[3]

Coreus marginatus
               The Port of Norfolk also saw for the first time the arrival and discovery of Coreus marginatus Linnaeus (1758). The uninvited accidental visitor was found in a shipment of tile from Italy. This species if found throughout most of Europe where it feeds on plants in the genus Rumex. In addition inspectors also discovered at the Norfolk facility an adult moth hiding out amongst military cargo. The moth was identified as Autophila ligaminosa Eversmann (1851). This is the first time this species found in the sub-alpine region from the Balkans west to Afghanistan has been identified entering the US.  
Autophila ligaminosa -

               In the historic rivalry between Virginia and Maryland, the Port of Baltimore was not without its own early detection of non native visitors taking advantage of the enormous flow of global trade. And to make matters even worse one of the interception was yet another stink bug. Baltimore CBP found a moderate sized stinkbug in a shipment of tile that was later identified to be Sciocoris sideritidis Wollaston (1858). This is the first time this species has been identified entering the US. Just wait until an undetected mating pair of this new species to the shores of the United States sets up shop and works with the two existing invasive stink bugs already sucking their way through vegetables, fruits, and soya beans. Reducing USDA funding through political mismanagement and grand standing in Congress is a sure way to encourage this opportunity. 

Sciocoris sideritidis 

             And last but not least, remembering that airports are ports too, a baggage interception in Baltimore was confirmed to be Tetraleurodes andropogoni Dozier (1934), a type of white fly. This is the first time this species have been intercepted entering the US.  According to CPB "the insects were discovered on fresh leaves being carried by a passenger originating from Nigeria and arriving from the United Kingdom."[4]  

[2] EOL. Macroglossum stellatarum. [accessed May 17, 2013]
[3] Macroglossum Scopoli, 1777, Introd. Hist. nat.: 414. [accessed May 17, 2013]
[4] Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Nation Whitefly. Thursday, April 11, 2013. [accessed May 17, 2013]

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