Customs and border patrol specialists found tomato thrip, a new pest in the Baltimore area, when inspecting leaves from a travelers luggage at BWI Airport last July, according to a Department of Agriculture release.
The pest was found on leaves being carried by a passenger from Jamaica and specimens were sent to an enthamologist from the Department of Agriculture, who confirmed the identification of the pest on Friday. The remaining leaves were destroyed.
Tomato thrips feed by piercing the tissue of leaves, buds, flowers and fruit, which delays fruit development or damages the quality, according to the USDA release.
Tomato thrips also may cause indirect damage by passing viruses or bacteria to plants.
“This is another example of our agriculture specialist performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry,” Baltimore Port Director Ricardo Scheller said in a statement.