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Customs officials find destructive bugs in taro shipment

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:00 a.m. HST, Mar 27, 2013

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists stationed at the Honolulu Airport intercepted a nest of destructive mealy bugs in a taro shipment arriving from Fiji.

Customs officials said the interception on March 14 is the first of its kind in the United States.

The mealy bugs were discovered during a routine examination of an air cargo shipment. The shipment was held until identification could be verified. The mealy bugs were identified as Paraputo aracearum Williams. This species is host-specific to taro and is only known to occur in Fiji. 

Hilda Montoya, assistant port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Honolulu, said: “This is an example of the great work our agriculture specialists and officers do to protect the domestic agriculture industry from pests and diseases. This is one of the top priorities in our mission to protect the homeland and our economic security.”

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