Peruvian crop-attacking beetle found in California


It was the first recorded interception of the insect anywhere in the U.S. (Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

A different type of beetle never seen before on American soil, made its way to San Diego aboard a shipping container full of bananas from Peru.

The beetle, called Gymnetis Pantherina, was found during an inspection by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist at the Port of San Diego, according to Customs officials. The beetle had to be sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture for identification.

This particular type of beetle can be devastating to agricultural crops and trees. The species has been known to attack more than 300 different types of crops, officials said.

"Keeping this pest out of the nation saves American agricultural industry from the expense of eradication, and the hardship of finding their crops damaged by a new danger," said Pete Flores, acting director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego to NBC News.

"By stopping bugs at the border, before they can enter the United States for the first time, CBP officers and agriculture specialists protect this vital American industry," Flores said.

When containers come into port with harmful insects, customs officials says they give the shipper the option to return the container back to its home port, treat the produce to kill any insects, or destroy the shipment.

Officials said in this case the shipper decided to treat the bananas to kill any other beetles or insects that may have been hiding in the fruit.