Chicago - Wanted dead or alive, the khapra beetle is one of the most feared pests in the world because of its destruction to agriculture. Recently, Chicago Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists intercepted the small global menace in a container of rice and beans imported from India.
The khapra beetle attacks food, eating and leaving behind body parts and hairs making it uneatable, unsalable and unusable. It lives in dry and warm controlled environments like grain silos, warehouses or homes and is associated with the movement of food, people and personal items. It can also withstand insecticide and multiplies rapidly in a short amount of time. According to the Department of Agriculture, eating food contaminated with khapra beetles may cause illness including severe vomiting and diarrhea.
On Jan. 7, CBP agriculture specialists in Chicago found dead beetle larva after examining the inside of a container with 50 pound sacks of rice and beans, valued at about $390,000, from India. Upon finding the larva, CBP reloaded and quarantined the container. For identification, they sent the larva to U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologists who forwarded the intercepted pest to the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA in Washington, D.C. where the larva was identified as khapra beetle. As a result, CBP ordered the container to be exported.
"This is considered a significant interception for our dedicated and highly trained agriculture specialists who monitor incoming food products and are a critical part of CBP's layered approach in securing our nation," said David Murphy, Chicago CBP director of Field Operations. "As a result of their diligent efforts, there has been a rise in the number of khapra beetle interceptions on imports."
CBP agricultural specialists are stationed at U. S. ports of entry and international mail facilities. They play a vital roll in guarding against agro terrorism and bioterrorism while safeguarding agricultural resources from destructive pests and diseases.
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.