The following is the text of a press release issued Aug. 20 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection:
(OAKLAND, Calif.) — U.S. Department of Agriculture officials reported today that they have positively identified suspicious egg masses discovered on a maritime vessel by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in Oakland, California as viable Asian Gypsy Moth eggs.
“This is a remarkable find especially since these egg masses were missed at its last port in Australia,” said CBP San Francisco Field Office Agriculture Program Manager David Talpas. “Discovering two silver dollar sized AGM egg masses by meticulously examining an entire large container vessel is quite simply like finding a needle in a haystack!”
On July 29, CBP agriculture specialists discovered the two suspect Asian Gypsy Moth egg masses on an overhead cross beam in front of the gangway. They quickly sent the egg masses to a special USDA laboratory in Otis, Mass., for DNA molecular analysis. Officials there tested eight eggs from the egg masses with nuclear and mitochondrial markers – and all eggs tested positive for the Asian strain of gypsy moth.
“These AGM eggs were fresh, embryonated and well developed when viewed under the microscope. This suggests that these eggs are viable,” USDA officials report.
Asian Gypsy Moths are not known to occur in the United States. They pose a potential threat to over 500 different native trees and shrubs, especially oak, which is predominant in the San Francisco Bay Area. “CBP agriculture specialists across our nation are diligently working to keep the U.S. free of foreign invasive species,” said San Francisco Director of Field Operations Richard Vigna. “This finding of live Asian Gypsy Moths eggs in a port of entry – the third such find this year in the U. S. – clearly demonstrates the extraordinary CBP enforcement efforts to keep our crops and forests safe.”