Crop-Eating Stinkbug Found on Basil at San Francisco Airport; 1st for Bay Area

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Thursday, Jan 9, 2014  |  Updated 1:05 PM PDT
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Crop-Eating Stinkbug Found on Basil at SFO

US Customs and Border Protection

Euschistus rugifer, a type of stinkbug found at SFO on Dec. 31, 2013

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A particular kind of stinkbug was discovered on a shipment of Mexican basil at San Francisco International Airport - the first time this species has been found in the Bay Area and the second time in the nation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Frank Falcon said this kind of insect is a big agricultural threat to farmers because they "are extremely destructive to plants."

The discovery of five of these stinkbugs - specifically the Euschistus rugifer - was made on Dec. 31 at the air cargo facility at the airport.

Falcon said this type of bug has been seen only once before in the country - in Progreso, Texas in May 2013.

This type of bug, belonging to the Pentatomidae family of insects, lives mainly on the juices of plants and fruits. Falcon said this was the first time it was found living on a piece of basil.

In order to prevent the possibility of a new species becoming established in California, Falcon said the entire shipment was refused entry and ordered to be exported from the U.S.

The stink bug get its name from its tendency to eject a rank glandular odore secreted from pores in the thorax when agitated.

Many stinkbugs are considered agricultural pest insects, because they can create large populations which feed on crops  and they are resistant to many pesticides. Although, other types of stinkbugs can be considered highly beneficial, and in Laos, they are commonly eaten and regarded as delicious due to their extremely strong odor and are mixed into a paste with chilies and herbs.

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