Vine-devouring weevil caught at customs5th February, 2014 by Lauren Eads
A grapeleaf-chomping weevil has been found by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency hidden in a shipment of Italian tiles.
According to a report in Virginia’s Daily Press, it is the first time a customs office has intercepted the pest known by its Latin name as a Byctiscus betulae, or a leaf-roller weevil, which are normally found in Europe.
The pest can do damage to grapevines, as well as “pear and other broadleaf trees,” and could have posed a threat to Virginia’s growing wine industry which has seen the number of wineries more than triple to 213 in the last decade.
Female leaf-roller weevils create thin, tight ‘leaf-rolls’ from one or two leaves to lay their eggs in – a process that can take up to two hours.
After hatching the larvae remain in the rolls which fall to the ground which are fed on for around 15 days.
Louis Rossero, a spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, said agricultural specialists came across the pest during a routine check on Tuesday.
“We get a lot of tile imported into the port, and normally the aggies look at tile mostly for snails,” Rossero said.
“They spot-check for snails and obviously they saw this creature and it was something unusual they hadn’t seen before, so they sent it off to their entomologist.”
Standard procedure is to reload the container and fumigate its contents.