Houston, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists from the Houston Seaport found two dead female Asian Gypsy Moths (AGMs) and 20 Asian Gypsy moth egg masses on the superstructure of an international vessel.
The Asian Gypsy Moth is among the most damaging pests of hardwood forests and urban landscapes, defoliating over a million forested acres annually.
CBP agriculture specialists targeted this vessel for inspection after receiving notification from Japanese inspectors about their discovery of 52 egg masses and 52 live moths on the vessel prior to its departure to the U.S.
“CBP agriculture specialists at the Houston Seaport have discovered AGM egg masses on arriving international vessels on four separate occasions in the last month,” said Houston Area Port Director Roderick W. Hudson. “In this instance, our work with a partner nation led us to this important and significant discovery and highlights the global threat of this pest.”
CBP removed the egg masses and sent them to the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) for identification; the agency confirmed Aug. 2 that the pests were in fact AGM. As required by law, the vessel left the port to receive treatment and to provide verification that it was free from AGM and egg masses.
The vessel had to depart and return multiple times before CBP agriculture specialists determined that it was absolutely free from AGM egg masses.
Female Asian Gypsy Moths can lay between 500-1,000 eggs that will become voracious caterpillars that may feed on hundreds of tree and shrub species.
On a typical day in fiscal year 2018, 319 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 4,552 materials for quarantine: plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil.