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CBP Intercepts Cereal Killer

Release Date: 
October 24, 2011

Houston - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted what the agriculture industry labels as one of the most invasive and destructive pests - the Khapra beetle at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, October 17.

Melon seeds seized at George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Khapra Beetles found in bag of Melon seeds

Photo Credit:Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A CBP Agriculture K9 alerted to a shipment of personal affects arriving from Saudi Arabia. CBP agriculture specialists examined the shipment and intercepted several dead beetles and cast skins found in a bag of melon seeds.

Agriculture specialists sent the specimens to the local Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Identifiers (APHIS) for identification, and determined the specimens to be Trogoderma granarium Everts (Dermestidae) or Khapra beetle.

"Protecting our nation's agriculture industry from invasive plant pests and diseases is one of our many priorities," said CBP Director of Field Operations Jeffrey O. Baldwin Sr. "This interception is an example of how effective our K9 teams can be."

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, previous detections of Khapra beetle resulted in massive, long term-control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer. Khapra beetle are difficult to control because they can survive without food for long periods, requires little moisture, hides in tiny cracks and crevices, and are relatively resistant to many insecticides and fumigants.

Houston CBP Agriculture Specialists have intercepted more than 20 Khapra beetles this year alone.

Earlier this year, CBP began enforcing a federal quarantine order that restricts the importation of rice into the U.S. from countries with known Khapra beetle infestations. The introduction and establishment of Khapra beetle into the U.S. poses a serious threat to stored agricultural products, including spices, grains and packaged foods.

These restrictions apply to all countries where Khapra beetle is known to occur, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

Infestation affects grain quality as well as quantity. Infestation of commodities with Khapra beetle can lead to the following consequences:

  • Economic loss of valuable grain or other domestic or export products

  • Lowered quality of products due to contamination

  • Costs associated with prevention and treatment

  • Consumer health risks when exposed to products contaminated with insect parts

In the U.S., infestation can result in the loss of export markets. If the Khapra beetle became established in the United States, other countries would likely place restrictions on imports of U.S. grain, or cereal products.

The melon seeds will be destroyed by steam sterilization.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017