Chicago- Chicago Customs and Border Protection agricultural specialists working at O'Hare Airport recently found one of the top 100 most-feared pests in the world within a seemingly innocent bag of rice being shipped amidst clothing, pots and pans and other personal effects coming into the United States from India.
Known as hard to kill and able to thrive in grain elevators, warehouses and even in home pantries, the tiny Khapra Beetle, Trogoderma granarium Everts, is one of the world's most tenacious and destructive stored-product pests because of its ability to damage grain. Infestations can result in up to 70 percent grain damage, making grain and grain products inedible and unmarketable. If digested, the pest may also cause diarrhea and vomiting.
On August 16, while enforcing a federal quarantine that restricts the importation of rice into the U.S. from countries with known Khapra Beetle infestations, Chicago agriculture specialists working in the O'Hare cargo environment located two 10-pound bags of rice among a shipment of personal household items and upon examination found a cast skin and larvae. For identification purposes, the pest was sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologists where it was identified as a Khapra Beetle.
Previous CBP Kharpa Beetle interceptions at O'Hare include beetles in a personal supply of bulgur wheat earlier this month; the rejection of a container of tapioca powder because of Kharpa Bettle contamination in June; and in January, dead beetle larva found in a container filled with 50 pound sacks of rice and beans from India.
"Even though they are tiny creatures and can easily hide, the good news is that CBP agriculture specialists have the skills and fortitude to discover, isolate, and identify these pests," said Steve Artino, Acting CBP Director of Field Operations in Chicago. "Our CBP agriculture specialists are actively looking for and finding this destructive pest within shipments at airports, cargo environments, seaports, mail, express consignment and border facilities to keep our nation's agriculture safe."
The Khapra Beetle originated in South Asia and is now present throughout much of northern Africa and the Middle East, with a limited presence in Asia, Europe, and southern Africa.
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.