US Customs inspect Valentine's Day bouquets for insects

February 10, 2010 7:07:59 PM PST
As Valentine's Day approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in Chicago are busy checking imported flowers used in Valentine's Day bouquets for insects and diseases.Chicago ranks in the top 10 locations for pest interceptions in the country.

"CBP agriculture specialists do an outstanding job in protecting this country from pest and diseases that could cause significant impact on agriculture in the United States," said David Murphy, CBP Director of Field Operations in Chicago.

Last year in Chicago, specialists inspected over one million cut flowers. The top five types of flowers imported into the city are tulips, roses, daffodils, orchids, and buttercups, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The most common type of insects intercepted in flower imports are moths, miner flies, and thrips.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed approximately 148.5 million cut flower stems during the 2009 Valentine's season. Most of the cut flower shipments were imported from South America.

In 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 1.5 million prohibited plant, meat and animal byproducts and intercepted more than 166,000 pests at the U.S. ports of entry.