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Checking for Pests before Giving to your Sweetie

Jim Anderson
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MIAMI - FEBRUARY 03:  A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists inspects flowers for any foreign pests or diseases at the Miami International Airport February 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. As Valentine's Day approaches, 272 million cut flower stems pass through the airport, which handles about 85 percent of fresh flowers imported into the United States. Most of the flowers come from South American growers.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI – FEBRUARY 03: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists inspects flowers for any foreign pests or diseases at the Miami International Airport February 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. As Valentine’s Day approaches, 272 million cut flower stems pass through the airport, which handles about 85 percent of fresh flowers imported into the United States. Most of the flowers come from South American growers. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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CHICAGO, Ill. (IRN) — The flowers that are being bought for Valentine’s Day are checked first for agricultural pests.

The bulk of the flowers are imported, mostly from Colombia and Ecuador. Inspections are taking place at O’Hare Airport, says Brian Bell of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“All of the inspections do take place after the flowers are off loaded from the airplane,” he said. “They’re presented to us for inspection, the agricultural specialists will look for anything that’s out of the ordinary, and if they should find anything that is potentially a problem, they’ll go ahead and deny the entry into the U.S. of the shipment.”

If a shipment is denied, the importer can fumigate it and ask for re-inspection; if that doesn’t work, the material must be returned to its country of origin or destroyed. The top flower imports around Valentine’s Day are tulips, roses, daffodils and orchids. The leading pests on flower imports are moths, white flies and little green bugs called thrips.

The O’Hare entry point is within the top three locations for pest interceptions in the country. Bell says staffing of agricultural inspectors there is beefed up at this time of year in anticipation of the volume of flower shipments.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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