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CBP Intercepts World’s Most-Destructive Pest in Passenger Baggage at Dulles, BWI Airports

Release Date: 
March 8, 2018

BALTIMORE – Trogoderma granarium, commonly known as Khapra beetle, is one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of stored grains, cereals and seeds, and it presents potentially crippling economic consequences to grain and cereal exporters such as the United States. Due to those consequences, Khapra beetle remains the only insect in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) takes regulatory action, even when the insect is in a dead state.

Khapra beetle
CBP agriculture specialists at BWI and
Dulles Airports intercepted Khapra beetle
in traveler baggage.

CBP agriculture specialists at both Washington Dulles International Airport (Dulles) and Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) recently encountered this dangerous insect pest.

CBP agriculture specialists at BWI discovered two live adult Khapra beetles, one dead immature larva, and several cast skins in two pounds of insect-infested, prohibited cow peas that a New York City resident brought from Nigeria February 23. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed the specimens March 6 as Trogoderma granarium.

On January 24, CBP agriculture specialists at Dulles Airport discovered four live Khapra beetle adults, 12 live larvae, and several dead larvae and cast skins throughout a five-kilogram bag of prohibited basmati rice that a Washington, D.C. resident brought from Saudi Arabia. USDA entomologist confirmed Trogoderma granarium on February 7.

CBP incinerated all food products.

“Khapra beetle is one of the most invasive and destructive insects that Customs and Border Protection may encounter, and it poses a significant threat to our nation’s agriculture industries and to our export economy,” said Dianna Bowman, CBP Area Port Director for Baltimore. “Protecting America’s agricultural resources is of paramount concern to CBP, and it’s a mission that our agriculture specialists take very serious.”

Khapra beetle
Khapra beetle is one of the world's most
destructive insect pests.

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

In 1953, California implemented extensive eradication measures following a Khapra beetle infestation discovered there. The effort was deemed successful, but at a cost of approximately $11 million. Calculated in today’s dollars, that would be about $90 million.

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 sicken infants.

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

“This interception is another example that demonstrates the unwavering commitment of Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in safeguarding America’s agriculture by tirelessly inspecting travelers and goods arriving to the United States every day,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. Learn more about how CBP protects our nation’s agriculture.

On a typical day nationally, CBP agriculture specialists interdicts 4,638 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, and intercepts 352 agriculture pests and diseases. Learn more about what CBP achieves in “Typical Day.”

CBP’s Office of Field Operations

Almost a million times each day, CBP welcomes international travelers into the U.S. In screening both foreign visitors and returning U.S. citizens, CBP uses a variety of techniques to intercept narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products, and to assure that global tourism remains safe and strong.

CBP's border security mission is led at 328 international ports of entry by CBP officers and agriculture specialists from the Office of Field Operations. Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders.

Travelers are encouraged to visit CBP’s Travel website to learn more about the CBP admissions process and rules governing travel to and from the U.S.

Learn more about CBP at CBP.gov.

Last modified: 
March 8, 2018