U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at John F. Kennedy International airport recently intercepted was is believed to be the first Mediterranean fruit fly arriving from South America.

“Our frontline agriculture specialists did an excellent job and found a significant pest within this large amount of fruit hidden,” said Robert E. Perez, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations. “This recent interception shows how our agriculture specialists help protect American agriculture and preserve the nation’s economic security by denying entry of invasive species to the U.S.”

On April 22, CBP Agriculture Specialists performing an inspection of fresh Pomegranate Arils, originating from Peru, discovered an Arils, a fly larva among the shipment. The larva was captured and sent to the U. S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Station for further analysis. It was confirmed by the USDA/APHIS to be the Ceratitis capitata; more commonly known as the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly. The medfly is a particularly dangerous threat to more than 260 kinds of domestic fruits, flowers, vegetables, and nuts.

USDA/APHIS is the responsible agency to work with the importer in determining final disposition of the quarantined shipment. Three options exist in eliminating the pest threat of agriculture quarantined cargo. It can be re-exported under direct CBP supervision, destroyed by incineration under direct CBP supervision, or fumigation using Methyl Bromide under USDA/APHIS supervision.

Its discovery in the Arils is a significant find, that this particular find may be the first case of the European medfly intercepted in pomegranate arils from South America.