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Baltimore CBP Ends Destructive Khapra Beetle’s Globe-Trotting Ways

Release Date: 
May 12, 2017

Pest Arrives from Thailand, a non-Khapra Beetle Nation

BALTIMORE – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists put an end to the globe-trotting ways of one Khapra beetle that arrived in Baltimore May 4 in a shipment of screws from Thailand.

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 the insect pest is in a dead state.

CBP agriculture specialists discovered four cast skins and one live adult beetle while inspecting the shipping container.  CBP submitted the specimen to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist who confirmed on Wednesday that the specimen was Trogoderma granarium Everts, commonly known as Khapra beetle.

Baltimore CBP agriculture specialists intercepted a Khapra beetle like this one in a container of screws from Thailand. (file photo)
Baltimore CBP agriculture specialists
intercepted a Khapra beetle like this
one in a container of screws
from Thailand.

Thailand is a country not known to have Khapra beetle.  CBP agriculture specialists researched the shipping container’s movement and learned that it passed through endemic Khapra beetle countries, including Saudi Arabia in April 2016 and the Sudan from May through July 2016. The container then transited through Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore , which are non-KB nations, before it arrived in Baltimore May 4.

Khapra beetle can also tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods without food.

“The Khapra beetle presents a serious threat to our nation’s agriculture and our economy.  For this highly destructive insect pest to hitchhike around the world before it arrived from a non-KB nation is concerning to Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists.” said Dianna Bowman, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore.  “Our best defense against destructive pests, like the Khapra beetle, is to prevent their entry into the United States.”

CBP ordered the container be re-exported.

The Khapra beetle is a ‘dirty feeder’ because it damages more grain than it consumes, and because it contaminates grain with body parts and hair. These contaminants may cause gastrointestinal irritation in adults and sickens infants.

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, previous infestations of Khapra beetle have resulted in massive, long-term-control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer.

For example, 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.

“This Khapra beetle interception from a non-KB nation demonstrates the need each day for Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists to exercise vigilance during inspections of goods entering the United States,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP Director, Baltimore Field Operations.  “Safeguarding America’s agriculture industries remains an enforcement priority for CBP, and it’s a mission that we take very serious.”

CBP Agriculture Specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection.  On a typical day nationally, they inspect over 1 million people as well as air, land and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,638 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 404 agriculture pests and diseases.

Read more about what CBP accomplished on a Typical Day during 2016.

Learn more about CBP’s agriculture protection mission.

Last modified: 
May 12, 2017