Discovery of pest that could harm US agriculture leads to destruction of $15,000 worth of pineapples

Saunders 1850

The discovery of a pest that could harm U.S. agriculture led to a shipment containing $15,000 worth of pineapples being destroyed in Mississippi.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection shared this week that a butterfly larvae pest, informally known as the Saunders 1850, was found at the Port of Gulfport while inspecting the shipment on Sept. 2. The shipment was from Costa Rica.

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The insects feed on many plants, such as pineapples, legumes, sunflowers., and ginger. Their typical habitat is the Amazonian tropical rainforest. 

This was the first time the insect has been found in the United States.

"These butterflies, while they may be attractive to the eye, have no place in the Gulf Coast or United States and their introduction could lead to unpredictable results in our ecosystem," said Anthony Acrey, Area Port Director of Mobile.