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Elephant weevil intercepted at L.A.-Long Beach port complex

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An elephant weevil, a tiny insect that attacks wine crops and fruit trees, was intercepted last month at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex in a container of oranges from Australia, officials said.

It was the first time the pest had been found in the United States. It attacks roots, stems and fruits of cultivated vines, and also feeds on citrus, blueberry bushes and fruit trees.

“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 Los Angeles field operations, said in a statement last week.

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The live bug, less than an inch long, was found Aug. 30 and identified the next day. The shipment of oranges, bound for Florida, was fumigated and released on its way.

In the last fiscal year, agricultural specialists intercepted more than 400 agricultural pests at ports of entry to the United States.

jessica.garrison@latimes.com

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