Those pesky land snails are causing export problems

The country’s ornamental plant exporters are having a problem because snails and leafhoppers are showing up on their products when they arrive in the United States.

Representative of the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service met with producers and Costa Rican officials to discuss the situation. The U.S. Embassy said that since the market was opened to such imports in April, some 25 percent of the Costa Rican plants have been detained for quarantine.

The culprits are the Succinea costaricana, a small land snail that many expats have seen crawling around in the garden.

There also is a problem with leafhoppers, identified as cicadelidos by the embassy in a release.
Both species are considered a danger to U.S. agriculture. Infected plants can be fumigated, which represents an additional expense to exporters here. Or the shipment may be rejected by U.S. agriculture officials. That would be a major loss to producers here. The embassy said that since the end of July some 19 shipments have been detained due to plant pests.

The bulk of the plants involved are dracaena larger than 18 inches.

In Costa Rica, plant health is handled by the Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado.

Ornamental plants are products considered in the free trade treaty with the United States and Central American nations and the Dominican Republic. There are vast operations cultivating such plants in Costa Rica.

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