Biological Invasions

, 8:611 | Cite as

Interceptions of Nonindigenous Plant Pests at US Ports of Entry and Border Crossings Over a 17-year Period

  • Deborah G. McCullough
  • Timothy T. Work
  • Joseph F. Cavey
  • Andrew M. Liebhold
  • David Marshall


Despite the substantial impacts of nonindigenous plant pests and weeds, relatively little is known about the pathways by which these organisms arrive in the U.S. One source of such information is the Port Information Network (PIN) database, maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) since 1984. The PIN database is comprised of records of pests intercepted by APHIS personnel during inspections of travelers’ baggage, cargo, conveyances and related items arriving at U.S. ports of entry and border crossings. Each record typically includes the taxonomic identify of the pest, its country of origin, and information related to the commodity and interception site. We summarized more than 725,000 pest interceptions recorded in PIN from 1984 to 2000 to examine origins, interception sites and modes of transport for nonindigenous insects, mites, mollusks, nematodes, plant pathogens and weeds. Roughly 62% of intercepted pests were associated with baggage, 30% were associated with cargo and 7% were associated with plant propagative material. Pest interceptions occurred most commonly at airports (73%), U.S.-Mexico land border crossings (13%) and marine ports (9%). Insects dominated the database, comprising 73 to 84% of the records annually, with the orders Homoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera collectively accounting for over 75% of the insect records. Plant pathogens, weeds and mollusks accounted for 13, 7 and 1.5% of all pest records, respectively, while mites and nematodes comprised less than 1% of the records. Pests were intercepted from at least 259 different locations. Common origins included Mexico, Central and South American countries, the Caribbean and Asia. Within specific commodity pathways, richness of the pest taxa generally increased linearly with the number of interceptions. Application of PIN data for statistically robust predictions is limited by nonrandom sampling protocols, but the data provide a valuable historical record of the array of nonindigenous organisms transported to the U.S. through international trade and travel.


exotic insects exotic species exotic weeds invasion pathways nonindigenous pest arrival Port Information Network database 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah G. McCullough
    • 1
  • Timothy T. Work
    • 2
  • Joseph F. Cavey
    • 3
  • Andrew M. Liebhold
    • 4
  • David Marshall
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Entomology and Department of ForestryMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada
  3. 3.USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection ServicePlant Protection and QuarantineRiverdaleUSA
  4. 4.USDA Forest ServiceNortheastern Research StationMorgantownUSA
  5. 5.USDA Agricultural Research Service, State UniversityPlant Science Research Unit, Department of Plant PathologyRaleighUSA

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