STERLING, Va. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists at Washington Dulles International Airport discovered live Khapra Beetle in a package of rice being carried by a traveler from Saudi Arabia on July 30. The specimens were forwarded to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist who confirmed them as Trogoderma granarium, commonly known as Khapra Beetle, on August 1.
The Khapra Beetle is considered one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods and remains the only insect in which CBP takes regulatory action against even while in a dead state.
“Khapra Beetle is one of the most invasive insects CBP agriculture specialists encounter,” said Wayne Biondi CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington. “And we take our mission to intercept these destructive pests and protecting America’s agricultural industry very seriously.”
The insects were discovered in a 2 pound package of rice being carried by a passenger originating from Saudi Arabia. CBP seized the rice and forwarded specimens of the Khapra Beetle larvae to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification. The rice was then destroyed by incineration.
The Khapra Beetle is labeled a ‘dirty feeder’ because it damages more grain than it consumes, and because it contaminates grain with body parts and hairs. These contaminants may cause gastrointestinal irritation in adults and especially sickens infants. Khapra Beetles can also tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods of time without food.
According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), previous infestations of Khapra Beetle have resulted in massive, long term-control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer.
California implemented extensive eradication measures following a Khapra Beetle infestation discovered there in 1953. The effort was deemed successful, but at a cost of approximately $11 million. Calculated in today’s dollars, that would be about $90 million.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day nationally, they inspect almost 1 million people as well as air and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,379 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 440 insect pests.
Visit CBP agriculture specialists webpage to learn more about CBP's vital agriculture protection mission.