Mother’s Day is the busiest time of year for flower imports, which can carry pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment. This year, CBP agriculture specialists have inspected more than one billion cut flower stems bound for stores and households throughout the United States. As a result of those inspections, CBP prevented 1,977 pests from entering the U.S.
CBP agriculture specialists physically inspect all flowers and plant materials before they enter the United States to ensure that they are free of pests and diseases. The inspections include shaking the flowers to dislodge insects and the use of magnifying glasses to locate pests and diseases. CBP sends any pests and diseases to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which uses digital imagery and other technology to confirm their identity.
According to CBP data, solidago (goldenrods), alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), and chrysanthemum (florist’s daisy) are the flower species most often found to carry pests. Among other critters, cut flower imports may transport Noctuidae and Aphididae, colloquially known as the owlet moth and aphids, which can cause irreparable damage to the environment if allowed into the country. Infested shipments must be treated, re-exported or destroyed, depending on the severity of the infestation.