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Ship infested with tree-killing bugs ordered to leave New Orleans

Federal 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.
Credit: Customs and Border Protection Photo by S. Useman

NEW ORLEANS — 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. 

The New Orleans Advocate | The Times-Picayune reports that they discovered the beetle in wood onboard the Pan Jasmine on July 17. The discovery came just after the 590-foot-long vessel anchored in the Mississippi River about a mile downriver from New Orleans. 

Federal 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.

“If the wood had been offloaded into the U.S., it would have been put in a Louisiana landfill where the insects could crawl out and invade the local habitat, causing incalculable damage,” said Terri Edwards, the agency's New Orleans area port director.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.