CHICAGO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists working at O’Hare International Airport recently identified multiple Khapra beetles (Trogoderma granarium) and evidence of infestation while inspecting the baggage of two international travelers arriving from Iraq and India.
On July 8, CBP agriculture K-9 “Emeril” alerted to a passenger’s baggage arriving from India. The passenger presented a negative declaration to CBP officers during the primary inspection process. Upon further inspection, undeclared food items were discovered including pickled mutton, curry leaves, various fruits, seeds for planting, raw peanuts, and rice with visible live pests. In total, six different pests were intercepted, including a positive identification of the Khapra beetle.
In a separate incident, CBP agriculture specialists discovered and identified what appeared to be Khapra beetle cast skins on dried hibiscus leaves inside sealed plastic bags also containing rice and spices, while inspecting the baggage of an international traveler arriving from Iraq on June 27.
Due to the significant agricultural threat posed by these pests, all food items were seized and the specimens were forwarded to the local USDA Plant Inspection Station where they were positively identified and destroyed.
“CBP agriculture specialists continually demonstrate their vigilance in intercepting these extremely destructive pests that could wreak significant damage to our agricultural and economic interests,” said Acting Area Port Director Michael Pfeiffer.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Khapra beetle is one of the world’s most destructive pests, posing a substantial risk to stored food products such as grains and packaged foods. The insects are extremely difficult to eradicate, since they can survive for long periods without food or moisture, and are resistant to many insecticides. Previous Khapra beetle infestations have resulted in massive, long-term control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer.
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.