Unwelcome visitor turns up at the ports of LA and Long Beach

Back in the day, mobs of excited fans greeted the Beatles when they arrived in these parts. Not now – customs officials at the Ports of LA and Long Beach are frowning at the latest beetle to show up in the Southland.

It’s not just because the name — strongylaspis corticarius — is an unsavory mouthful. It’s because the critter itself is an unwelcome pest. Customs agents who discovered the beetle in cargo say it’s a serious agricultural threat.

The bug turned up last month in a shipment of Costa Rican pineapples, and it’s taken entomologists a few weeks to identify. Nobody in the United States has seen one for 20 years, when a specimen surfaced in Miami. The beetle is a wood borer that agricultural experts say could threaten the domestic timber industry.

Unwanted guests like this are nothing new in Southland sea and airports; this fiscal year customs inspectors have intercepted about 8,500 pests. Half of them belong to invasive species.

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