Central American pineapple is one of the biggest and freshest imports we receive at the Port of Long Beach. Some people find this tasty fruit most appetizing on pizza, while others enjoy it best in salsa. For a variety of invasive species, however, these pineapples are interesting as a means of transit. The invasive species found during inspection of these shipments include snails, insects and weed seeds. Many of the insects don’t feed on the pineapples but instead are “hitchhikers” – pests that, in effect, “hitch a ride” on the produce. While pineapple may not be a mainland crop in the U.S., many of the “hitchhikers” found in the crop shipments are generalists who can feed on a wide variety of host plants.
Take a look below at some of these threatening invasives and learn more about what California plants and produce they like to eat
This tiny insect (about 4 mm in length) was identified as Blissus sp., a genus that contains turf grass pests. Although found in a pineapple shipment, this pest would be of more concern to golf courses and homeowners, as well as pasture land managers.
This beetle, identified as Myochrous sp., was also found with a pineapple shipment. Members of this genus include some cereal crop pests, and they could potentially cause problems for our corn growers.
Among the plethora of hitchhiking pests in pineapple shipments are a number of invasive weed seeds.
Rottboellia cochinchinensis (a.k.a itchgrass) is an invasive weed not only in pineapple but also in sugarcane, corn, rice, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, and other warm-season crops. It thrives in rangeland, cropland, and any disturbed areas. This grass is a prolific seed producer. It is tolerant to most herbicides and is difficult to manually control due to the irritating hairs covering the stems.
Tridax procumbens (a.k.a. coat buttons) is a daisy-like weed that occurs in annual crops, pastures, and roadsides. It produces spreading stems and extremely abundant wind-dispersed seed, as many as 1500 achenes per plant.
Photos and blog entry by:
Kristen Kaser, Botanist, and
Liana Morishita, Entomologist
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services
Port of Long Beach Work Unit