USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging firms exporting cotton yarn from Southeastern U.S. states to follow APHIS protocols aimed at keeping kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) out of shipments to Honduras and other Caribbean Basin importing countries.

The request comes after APHIS was notified by Honduran Servicio de Proteccion Agropecuaria (SEPA) at Puerto Cortesat that on Nov. 3, a container filled with blended cotton/polyester yarn was turned away after three live and three dead kudzu bugs were found.

In March, the Phytosanitary Issues Management (PIM) group under APHIS’ Plant Protection Quarantine (PPQ) program notified the NCC, the National Council of Textile Organizations and other organizations of the kudzu bug/export issue affecting commodities destined to Honduras (see Kudzu bug now interfering with Southeast exports).

PIM had asked the NCC to advise yarn spinners to thoroughly inspect containers for this pest prior to loading and shipping cotton yarn in order to avoid problems.

Yarn spinners also were asked to make sure that: 1) containers are "broom clean;" 2) boxes or pallets containing cotton yarn are free of pests; and 3) as part of their routine shipping procedures, container doors are closed and sealed following loading.

Following this latest kudzu bug discovery, PIM informed the U.S. cotton industry that Honduras has resumed conducting heightened inspections at their ports of entry (POE) for the second time this year. APHIS PPQ's response to the heightened inspections was to develop “Protocol for Loading Containers” to help insure harmonious relations with government agencies responsible for plant protection and quarantine in Caribbean Basin countries.

SEPA POE inspections affect all commodity shipments, including cotton yarn, originating in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Shippers of all commodities are reminded that consignments containing live kudzu bugs will be turned away at the Honduran POE and returned to the originating state.

Due to these heightened inspections, cotton yarn exporters are reminded to inspect containers for hitchhiking pests during loading and shipping.

The APHIS Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT) website has the latest information on phytosanitary requirements. That site and the “Protocol for Loading Containers” website, along with a University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health-developed kudzu bug website, can be accessed on the NCC’s website at www.cotton.org/tech/flow/kudzu-bug-remediation.cfm.