Federal agents near New Orleans ordered a cargo ship to leave the U.S. after an inspection found wood infested with a type of Asian beetle that has been destroying trees in the U.S. for about 25 years.
They discovered the beetle in wood onboard the Pan Jasmine on July 17, The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune reported. The discovery came just after the 590-foot-long vessel anchored in the Mississippi River about a mile downriver from New Orleans.
The wood was found to have burrowing holes and fresh sawdust. U.S. Department of Agriculture insect specialists identified five pests in the wood. Two of them - the beetle and a type of ant - are considered serious risks to U.S. crops, authorities said.
The ship was ordered to leave U.S. waters. It departed July 21 for Freeport, Bahamas, for wood disposal services.
The beetle, a member of the Cerambycidae family of longhorned beetles, bores into wood and can feed on a wide variety of trees in the U.S., eventually killing them. The ant, a member of the Myrmicinae family, forms permanent colonies that can compete with native species and damage crops.