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Live Khapra Beetle Found at Phoenix Airport in Rice from Saudi Arabia

Release Date: 
July 10, 2015

PHOENIX —A passenger traveling from Saudi Arabia entered the United States on July 1, 2015, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, via London on British Airways 289, and declared rice among other food items in his possession. 

Trogoderma granarium (Everts), Khapra beetle

Trogoderma granarium (Everts), Khapra beetle

During an inspection of his luggage, a Customs Inspector advised the man that rice from Saudi Arabia is prohibited due to the Khapra Beetle threat. The inspector found and opened the rice, and discovered five suspected Khapra beetle larvae. 

After the larvae were sent to the USDA in Nogales, Arizona, for positive identification, they had to be shipped for further national-level verification. On July 8, the larvae were confirmed as Trogoderma granarium (Everts), Khapra beetle.

The Khapra beetle is one of the world’s most destructive pests of grain products and seeds. The beetle prefers hot, dry conditions and can be found in areas where grain and dry food products are stored, such as pantries, grain and fodder processing plants.

Its discovery in California in 1953 led to a massive control and eradication effort, which extended until 1966 at a cost to the government of $15 million. 

Established infestations are difficult to control because of the beetle's ability to live for long periods without food. They can survive on foods of low moisture content and tend to crawl into tiny cracks and crevices where they remain for long periods. It also has a relatively high tolerance to many surface insecticides and fumigants.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017