Sterling, Va. - Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted two Khapra beetle larvae, one of the world's most destructive insect pests, in a bag of rice Monday that arrived at Washington-Dulles International Airport.
This is the second Khapra beetle discovery at Washington-Dulles. The first occurred on Jan. 21, 2001.
The parcel of three suitcases arrived from Saudi Arabia and was detained for an agriculture inspection. Inside one suitcase, CBP agriculture specialists discovered a rice-filled burlap bag. They discovered one larva while sifting through the rice and a second larva on the outside of the burlap.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist identified the larvae as Khapra beetle. The USDA considers Khapra beetles one of the most invasive insect species worldwide. Khapra beetles can tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods of time without food.
"An interception of a highly-invasive and destructive insect pest such as the Khapra beetle is a significant discovery for Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists," said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington. "If left unchecked, the Khapra beetle could pose a devastating threat to our nation's agriculture, to our economy and to the health of our citizens."
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 sickens infants.
The parcels were manifested as clothes, dry dates, spices, coffee, dry food, noodles, tea and sugar and were destined for Rhode Island.
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States and seize 4,291 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 454 insect pests.
"CBP agriculture specialists take their role of protecting our nation's agriculture very serious," said Hess. "They are a critical part of CBP's mission to protecting our nation against all potential threats."
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.