An insect not known to be in the U.S. tried to hitchhike in on a bunch of calla lilies coming through Dulles International Airport.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural specialists were all over this ugly little guy. They spotted the bug, which looks a lot to the untrained eye like a cockroach. It tried to come in hugging the flowers coming from Kenya and the Netherlands.
For you entomologists out there -- or whoever is just plain curious about what the heck this thing is -- the whole name is: Conostethus venustus Fieber. Or we can just call him Miridae, for short.
"We know that insects in the Miridae family generally have a voracious appetite and can cause serious harm to cultivated plants in the United States," said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington, D.C. "The introduction of this insect pest could have a profound impact on American agricultural industries."
Good catch, CBP agricultural specialists. Keep this pest out of our lives.
They issued an Emergency Action Notification that required the flowers to be fumigated or destroyed. The flower exporter gave the order to kill the flowers by steam sterilization. Pretty serious business for a pretty serious pest.
And a bit of amazing trivia: Every day, CBP agricultural personnel inspect tens of thousands of human passengers and air and sea cargoes. They seize 4,291 banned meat, plants or animal products -- including 454 insect pests -- one of which was our ugly, hitchhiking little guy.