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Customs stops beet flea beetle at port of Baltimore

U.S. Customs agents discovered a beetle inside a shipping container in the port of Baltimore that could have posed a significant agricultural threat, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

The beet flea beetle was found Nov. 12 in a shipment of ceramic tile from Italy by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations. It's identity was confirmed Nov. 25 by a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist.

The jumping beetle chews holes in the leaves of agriculture crops, typically damaging young plants so badly they die.

It was the first time this particular beetle, normally found in a swath across Eurasia from southern Europe to Korea, has been identified and stopped from entering the United States.

"Keeping this pest out of the nation saves the American agricultural industry from the expense of eradication, and the hardship of finding their crops damaged by a new danger," said Dianna Bowman, Customs' Area Port Director for the port of Baltimore.

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