‘First in nation discovery’: US Customs Agents find rare, invasive beetle in box of jackfruit at Texas-Mexico border

A specimen of Cyclocephala forcipulata, a first in nation pest interception made by CBP agriculture specialists at Pharr International Bridge within boxes of jackfruit. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents recently intercepted a rare, invasive beetle at the Texas-Mexico border.

In a release, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency described the find as a “first in nation discovery.” According to USDA entomologists, the insect had never before been found at any of the nation’s ports of entry.

Agriculture specialists made the discovery on July 7 at the Pharr International Bridge in the Rio Grande Valley. The CBP agriculture specialists located the insect alive in a box of jackfruit while inspecting a commercial shipment of fresh produce from Mexico.

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The agriculture specialists sent the insect to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomology laboratory, which identified it as cyclocephala forcipulata, a scarab beetle found in Mexico.

The beetle can cause agricultural and economic damage as their larvae eat plant roots while the adults feed on their aerial parts of the plant, the agency said in a release.

The shipment was refused entry and returned to Mexico.

“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 Carlos Rodriguez, Port Director at the  Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry.

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.