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Elephant weevil found at L.A. port, officials said

September 12, 2012 | 10:43 pm

An elephant weevil, a tiny insect that attacks wine crops and fruit trees, was intercepted last month at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach in a container of oranges from Australia, officials said Wednesday.

This was the first time this pest had been found in the United States. It attacks roots, stems and fruits of cultivated vines, and also feeds on citrus, blueberry bushes and fruit trees.

"Had this pest gone undetected, it could have had a serious impact on the California wine industry,"  Todd C. Owen, Customs and Border Protection director of Los Angeles field operations, said in a statement.

The live bug, less than an inch long, was found Aug. 30 and identified the next day. The shipment of oranges, bound for Florida, was fumigated and released on its way Friday.

In the last fiscal year, agricultural specialists intercepted more than 400 agricultural pests at ports of entry to the United States.


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-- Jessica Garrison