Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 26, 2006

CBP stops invasive slug

Filed under: Biosecurity — by Christian Beckner on July 26, 2006

This press release from CBP today makes me nostalgic for my childhood, and hours spent in the morning, while waiting for the school bus, pouring a salt shaker over the hapless creatures:


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists here recently intercepted a slug in a shipment of fresh mushrooms from Bulgaria. The slug, identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Lehmannia nyctelia, is established throughout Europe, north and south Africa, Australia and New Zealand and could potentially pose a tremendous threat to agriculture in the United States.

The shipment of mushrooms arrived at Sea-Tac Airport from Bulgaria via London on Monday, July 10th, and was examined by CBP agriculture specialists. As the numerous (62) cartons of mushrooms were being unloaded from the air cargo container, an agriculture specialist crawled into the container to check for pests. The slug was found on the floor of the container, apparently after crawling out of the mushroom shipment. The shipment was bound for an importer in California.

The live slug was captured and sent to the USDA National Identification Services located in Philadelphia. If a sample is “actionable,” that is, not known to exist in the United States, or is an exotic invasive species detrimental to American agriculture, the shipment is ordered for fumigation, destruction, or reexport. On July 12th, scientists there dissected and identified the slug and verified that it was the first positive identification of this species intercepted at any U.S. port of entry. The shipment of mushrooms was destroyed.

The Lehmannia nyctelia species of slug is a voracious feeder on a variety of trees, shrubs, crop and greenhouse plants. It can also transmit the tobacco mosaic virus to some plants, which unchecked can have devastating effects on several crops including tomatoes, peppers, other vegetables, flowers and weeds.

What I can say? It’s been a slow news week.

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