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Old 06-05-2007, 05:28 AM
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The Mexican Bromeliad Weevil


>The Mexican Bromeliad Weevil immigrated to Florida on a shipment of bromeliads in the late 1980's. Examination of plant inspection records at ports in Florida shows how that was possible. Between 1979 and 1990, USDA-APHIS plant inspectors in Florida intercepted 141 shipments of bromeliads (mostly Tillandsia spp.) that contained Metamasuis species weevil's.
>Of the interceptions of those identified to the species level (122 were for unidentified Metamasuis), three shipments contained Metamasuis quadrilineatus (from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico). The remaining 14 interceptions were of the wevil that is destroying Florida's bromeliads, Metamasuis callizona. All interceptions of Metamasuis callizona were in shipments of bromeliads from Mexico. Additionally in recent years, two specimens of Metamasuis flavopictus have been found by Florida nurseries importing bromeliads from Guatemala.
>Since less than 2% of imported plant shipments are inspected, and it is very difficult to detect eggs or small larvae deep within the plants, there is ample opportunity for infested plants to be overlooked.
Here is a photograph of Metamasius callizona (Evil Weevil) taken in South Florida.....



>All it takes is one infested plant to escape detection, and the Mexican bromeliad weevil apparently arrived in that way. In a Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) nursery in 1989, plant inspectors from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found several of these weevils on Tillandsia ionantha, a bromeliad from Mexico and Central America. The likely orign of the shipment was a grower in Veracruz, Mexico. The Fort Lauderale nursery was treated with pesticides, but by the time the weevil was detected, it had become established in the surrounding area. Since then, it has been found in 17 counties and is rapidly approaching populations of Florida's rarest bromeliads in the Everglades.

>Human transportation of plants has contributed to the threat to Florida's bromeliad populations. The situation could be worse at any time in the future if related bromeliad pests enter the state, a senario that is not unlikely given the high number of insect species that have entered Florida undetected and given that there are over 20 bromeliad-attacking weevils in the neotropical countries from which so many ornamental plants are imported.
>Most bromeliad weevils are species of Metamasuis. The species most likely to enter and become established in Florida, based on interception records, are Metamasuis quadrilineatus and Metamasuis sellatus.....



>To aviod futher threats to Florida's native bromeliad species, bromeliad importers are encouraged to apply a pesticide dip to imported bromeliads, especially those received from Mexico and Central America. However, pesticides may not kill the weevil eggs. Importation of bromeliad seeds, rather than plants, would be the most effective means of preventing infestations of weevils.

If you buy bromeliads as ornamental plants for your home, consider purchasing from a nursery that grows non-imported bromeliads.
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Old 06-05-2007, 07:36 AM
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Thanks for posting that. It serves as a good reminder that the USPS regulations for importing and exporting plants from/to foreign locales exists for a very good reason.

Even so, inspectors can't do an in-depth inspection of everything (sort of like the USDA can't inspect all the meat that goes to supermarket shelves).
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:41 AM
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Excellent post Jack and a real wake up call. Florida, it seems, has been victimized so many times by imported pests, diseases, and plants that have become invasive. This is why I don't ship or receive plants to and from other countries and can understand why some States have strict prohibitions on plants being imported from any source. We all must be careful even when trading plants - that we are not spreading some kind of disease or pests along with them.
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Old 06-06-2007, 04:59 AM
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Plant Importers


The United States law on the books states that any plant entering the US has to have a phytosanitary (sp) certificate issued by the country of origin. Though the law is on the books, it is rarely enforced and is sometimes waived for any plants that are hand carried into this country inside luggage. It is absurd that our agricultural department would trust the inspection of any third world country by accepting a paper stateing that the plants are clean.

On the other hand:

In recent times, most plants discovered for science and introduced to cultivation were found by amateur collectors. Not trained scientifically and do not operate for any organization or government. Private collectors have explored many areas of the world looking for specimens for their collections or for introduction to horticulture. Information and specimens gathered by collectors has increased the knowledge of many new species, and sometimes tracks the extinction of plants and their habitats.
Tropical forests of the world are disappearing at the rate of a football field a second. None of this is due to the private collector......
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