Not every day does a large cargo vessel get booted from U.S. waters after the discovery of invasive insects from China.
According to marine news website gCaptain, a Panama-flagged bulk carrier called M/V Pan Jasmine was anchored downriver from New Orleans on July 17 when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered five different pests, including two species (namely Cerambycidae, a type of beetle, and Myrmicinae, colonizing queen ants) that are known to pose a significant agriculture threats to U.S. farmland.
The significant presence of pests onboard the vessel forced CBP to expel it from U.S. waters.
New Orleans Area Port Director Terri Edwards said if the vessel offloaded with dunnage filled with pests, "it would have been put in a Louisiana landfill where the insects could crawl out and invade the local habitat, causing incalculable damage."
Edwards said, "inspecting wood dunnage of otherwise lawful shipments is one of the many, lesser-known ways Office of Field Operations Agriculture Specialists help keep our country safe. I am proud of our agriculture specialists and the USDA personnel for recognizing these dangerous pests."
Cerambycids are native to China and the Korean peninsula and were accidentally imported to the U.S. over the decades in shipping material that has led to the destruction of trees and farmland.
The USDA Forest Service has spent more than a half-billion dollars to eradicate cerambycids between 1996 and 2013.
There was no word if the insects were deliberately put on the ship as a form of "bug warfare," as for thousands of years, military leaders have used insects as weapons of war.