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Title: Airline Baggage as a Pathway for Alien Insect Species Invading the United States

Author: Liebhold, Andrew M.; Work, Timothy T.; McCullough, Deborah G.; Cavey, Joseph F.

Year: 2006

Publication: American Entomologist. 53(1): 48-54.

Abstract: Invasions by non-indigenous species are a problem of increasing magnitude and threaten the stability of the world's ecosystems and economies. Despite the enormity of this problem, relatively little is known about the importance of various invasion pathways. Using historical records of interceptions of alien insects in air passenger baggage by USDA inspectors, we characterize baggage as an invasion pathway. The most commonly infested commodity intercepted by inspectors was fruit (mainly tropical fruits), and the most commonly intercepted insects were Homoptera and Diptera. Numbers of interceptions from passengers originating in various countries were positively related to the volume of air traffic from that country and negatively associated with the gross national product of the country. In a more detailed case history, we used port inspection data to characterize baggage as a pathway for entry of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann). Our analysis indicated that contrary to an earlier report, this insect has arrived at a sustained level in Los Angeles (and elsewhere); and these regulatory incidents can be used to explain the repeated detection of the species in California in years following eradication campaigns.

Last Modified: 10/19/2007

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