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Philadelphia CBP Intercepts World’s Most Destructive Insect in Rice from Saudi Arabia

Release Date: 
September 24, 2014

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists recently intercepted Khapra Beetle, one of the world’s most destructive insect pets, in a passenger’s baggage at Philadelphia International Airport.

CBP officers referred a family that arrived from Saudi Arabia via Qatar to a secondary agriculture examination after the family declared possessing some food items Aug. 19. During the baggage examination, CBP agriculture specialists discovered immature and adult Coleopteran insects inside two burlap sacks that contained a combined nine pounds of rice.

CBP shipped the specimens to the U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist for identification, and Aug. 27, the USDA confirmed the insects to be Khapra Beetle (Trogoderma granarium Everts).

“Ensuring healthy and robust agriculture industries is vital to our nation’s continued economic vitality, and Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists take very serious their mission to protect America’s agriculture," said Susan Stranieri, CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “Intercepting harmful and invasive insect pests such as Khapra Beetle is of paramount concern to us.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists discovered Khapra Beetle, one of the world's most-destructive insect pests, in burlap sacks of rice from Saudi Arabia at Philadelphia International Airport August 14, 2014.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists discovered Khapra Beetle, one of the world's most-destructive insect pests, in burlap sacks of rice from Saudi Arabia at Philadelphia International Airport August 14, 2014.

Khapra Beetle poses a high risk to U.S. agriculture. It is one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods. It is known as 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. Khapra Beetles can also tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods without food.

Khapra Beetle is the only insect in which CBP takes regulatory action against while either live or in a dead state.

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

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

Related informationUSDA Restricts the Importation of Commercial and Noncommercial Quantities of Rice from Countries Where Khapra Beetle Is Known to Occur

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day nationally, they inspect almost 1 million people as well as air and sea cargo imported to the United States and intercept 4,379 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 440 insect pests.

To learn more about CBP agriculture protection mission, please visit Protecting Agriculture on the CBP website.

For more information on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, please visit www.cbp.gov.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017