Citrus Root Weevil Intercepted

Josh McGillPests

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists intercepted a species of citrus root weevil for the first time in Wilmington, Delaware, on May 22. They found the Cleistolophus viridimargo (Champion, 1911) weevil, a significant actionable pest, while inspecting a shipment of pineapples from Honduras.

Cleistolophus viridimargo adult (Photo by Hanna Royals, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine,

CBP said citrus root weevils pose a serious threat to the $3.4 billion U.S. citrus industry. CBP specialists safeguarded the shipment and submitted images of the specimen to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist. The entomologist identified the specimen as Cleistolophus viridimargo. This was a first-time interception for the Port of Wilmington.

Cleistolophus viridimargo is a species of citrus root weevil known to occur in Honduras and other locations in Central America. Adult weevils feed on the citrus tree while larvae feed on the root systems. This pest could potentially damage the U.S. citrus industry.

CBP offered the importer mitigation options, and the importer chose to fumigate the entire shipment.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock believes Cleistolophus viridimargo has not been found in Florida. She said that to reduce the risk of tropical pests from establishing in a subtropical part of the mainland U.S., tropical fruits typically ship through ports in northern locations.

“This reduces the likelihood that if something like this weevil were to make it into the U.S., it would be in an area without hosts and ideally in an unsuitable climate,” Diepenbrock said. “Our biosecurity isn’t perfect, but there are a lot of safety nets in place for critters like this.” 

During a typical day last year, CBP agriculture specialists across the nation discovered 240 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 2,677 materials for quarantine, including plants, meat, animal byproducts and soil. Read what else CBP accomplished during “A Typical Day” in 2022.

About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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