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Elephant weevil in the room: Wine crop foe makes U.S. debut at Port of L.A.


Photo by Grahame Bowland via Flickr Creative Commons

Elephant Weevil, Orthorhinus cylindrirostris, Bayswater Western Australia

Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Elephant weevil found in a shipment of Australian oranges.

A bug with the ability to mangle grapevines and fruit trees made its U.S. debut at the Port of Los Angeles in August, say U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

An elephant weevil, orthorhinus cylindrirostris, was found alive in a shipping container of Austalian oranges.

The long-snouted, agricultural foe, with a startling resemblance to Aloysius Snuffleupagus, attacks the roots, stems and fruit of cultivated vine crops, causing holes, stunted growth and weakened structure.

However, unlike its separated-at-birth Muppet counterpart, the elephant weevil is not afraid of fruit, and is known to feed on citrus, blueberry bushes, fruit trees and eucalyptus.

"Had this pest gone undetected, it could have had a serious impact on the California wine industry," Todd C. Owen, Customs and Border Protection director of L.A. field operations, said in a statement, the L.A. Times reports. 

Bound for Florida, the shipment harboring the spiny, spotted insect was fumigated and released on Friday.

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