WASHINGTON – Federal agents are on the hunt for a pesky, stowaway: The stinkbug.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found stinkbugs among a shipment of ceramic tile from Italy during an inspection at the Port of Baltimore Monday.
The Department of Homeland Security says the find was a “first in nation” pest discovery for the insect Sciocoris sideritidis, a type of stinkbug.
Stinkbugs threaten agriculture crops because they suck the juices out of the plants, fruits and seeds and reduce a farmer’s yield. Some of the pests feed on soybeans, rice, tomatoes and cabbage.
The bugs also destroyed orchard crops in Maryland the first year the invasive species arrived here.
Stinkbugs have plagued the D.C. metro area for the past several years. The annoying pests climb across computer keyboards, mirrors and are found in unlikely spots like the sleeve of a spring jacket.
“This is another example of our agriculture specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry,” said Ricardo Scheller, CBP Port Director for the Port of Baltimore in a statement.
Customs required that the tile either be re-imported or fumigated. The importer chose to fumigate the shipment, customs said.
Agricultural specialists who work for Customs and Border Protection inspect people, air and sea cargo and seize more than 4,000 prohibited meat, plant or animal products, along with 470 insect pests on a typical day, according to the agency.