BALTIMORE – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists at the Port of Baltimore discovered Monday that a shipment of cumin seed from India was infested with Khapra Beetle larvae. CBP agriculture specialists did not discover any live larvae but collected a specimen of the dead larvae and sealed the container.
The specimen was forwarded to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist who confirmed it as Trogoderma granarium, commonly known as Khapra Beetle. The importer has been issued an Emergency Action Notice requiring the 55,000-pound shipment of cumin seed to be re-exported.
The Khapra Beetle is considered one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods, and it 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 Dianna Bowman, CBP Area Port Director for Baltimore. “And we take our mission to intercept these destructive pests and protect America’s agricultural industry very seriously.”
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 over 1 million people as well as air and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,657 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 464 agriculture pests and diseases.
Learn more about CBP's agriculture protection mission.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.