Valentine's Day Flowers Inspected for Pests
Monday, February 6, 2012
HOUSTON, TX - Flower shops are gearing up for the
Valentine's Day holiday by purchasing thousands of roses from
outside the country . As the shipments make it to Houston, before
it can go to the flower shop agricultural specialists with U.S.
Customs and Border Protection must hand inspection each
"We are looking for pests and insects, diseases that could
potentially harm our American agriculture," agriculture specialist
Jennifer Murrell said.
The main source of imported flowers comes from Columbia and
Ecuador. The agents hand-select each batch making sure in transit
nothing was picked up.
"We do inspect 2 percent of every shipment looking for anything
that is infected," said Murrell.
Each bundle of flowers is visually inspected and then the agent
shakes the flowers on to white paper. Anything that falls out is
screened. But if there is evidence of disease or a flower has bite
marks on it, that's not enough.
"We can't take action unless we actually find the insect that
causes that damage," said Murrell.
During the 2011 Valentine's Day season from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14,
Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists prevented the
entry of 3,400 plant pests hitchhiking on cut flower imports.
Customs and Border Protection processed approximately 802.5
million cut flower stems last year.
The top 10 ports of entry, by volume, of cut flower imports
processed are Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Laredo, Texas, Otay
Measa, Chicago, Newark, Boston, Wilmington and San Juan.