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Crop-threatening weevil discovered at LAX in basil shipment from Mexico

February 4, 2010 | 12:24 pm
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Los Angeles International Airport intercepted a tiny insect that could pose a risk to agriculture, officials said Thursday.

The pest, pseudapion seminidum wagner, a member of the weevil family, was discovered in a shipment of organic basil from Mexico.

"LAX has never had this kind of bug before," said Naveeda Mirza, program manager for agriculture with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection field office.

Customs officials sent the insect to an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Infamous in Florida as a stored grain pest, the pear-shaped weevil can also feed on plant stems and leaves, causing abnormal plant growth, Mirza said.

The importer, who had the option to have the basil treated, destroyed or sent back to Mexico, chose to have the crop fumigated and sent on its way.

-- Amina Khan