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Valentine's Day flowers inspected by customs agents at MIA

Inspectors looking for insects, diseases

MIAMI – Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Miami is busy making sure flower imports are free from insects and diseases that could harm agricultural.

In the weeks leading to Valentine's Day, inspectors go through 22 million flowers per day -- four times the amount as normal.

"We are making sure there's nothing detrimental," inspector Wilbert Abbott told Local 10 News. 

It may not look like much of a science, but there's a method to the madness. Inspectors are checking for pests by shaking the flowers and looking through them. They're also checking the leaves and petals to see if there are signs of disease. 

"If you find something that's harmful then we intercept it or take it, and then we send it to USDA to be identified," Abbott said.

Once they're doing being inspected, they're packaged back up and ready to be delivered. 

With 90 percent of the fresh flower business coming through Miami International Airport, it's a job Customs and Border Protection takes seriously. 

"If it wasn't for our airport partners, some of those flowers wouldn't look as fresh and as good as they do," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowse said. 

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