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Philly CBP Intercepts World's Most Destructive Insect Pest

Release Date: 
October 2, 2012

Philadelphia- The Khapra beetle is considered one of the world's most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods. U.S. agriculture authorities are so concerned about any introduction of Khapra beetle that it remains the only insect in which Customs and Border Protection takes regulatory action against while in a dead state.

Trogoderma granarium Everts (Derestidae)

Adult Khapra Beetles

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, last year implemented commercial and non-commercial import restrictions to keep the Khapra beetle at bay.

CBP agriculture specialists came face-to-face with Khapra beetle Sept. 8. A Saudi Arabian traveler arrived to Philadelphia International Airport with a burlap bag containing 11 pounds of rice. Also in the burlap bag were six dead larvae and four dead adults, which a national USDA entomologist confirmed Sept. 26 as the destructive Trogoderma granarium Everts (Derestidae).

The rice was destroyed by incineration.

"Khapra Beetle is one of the most destructive and invasive insect pests that Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists encounter," said Allan Martocci, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. "Our agriculture protection mission is vital to our nation's longstanding economic health and self-reliance. We take our agriculture protection mission very seriously."

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. Khapra beetles can also tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods of time without food.

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, previous detections of Khapra beetle have resulted in massive, long-term control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American 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.

Trogoderma granarium Everts (Derestidae)

Khapra Larvae

On July 30, 2011, CBP started enforcing USDA restrictions on the importation of rice from countries known to have Khapra beetle. These restrictions were due to the increasing number of detections at U.S. ports of entry of infested shipments of rice from those countries.

These restrictions apply to all commercial and non-commercial imports from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

Non-commercial quantities - considered personal use amounts and that are not for resale - of rice from these countries will be prohibited from entering the United States, including those transported in international passenger baggage, by mail or by courier.

Commercial shipments of rice originating from these countries must be inspected and must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that the shipment was inspected and found free of Khapra beetle.

For more information on these restrictions, please visit their website.

CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to protect our nation's agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign insect pests and plant and animal diseases.

For more on the USDA APHIS program, please visit their website.

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 470 insect pests.

To learn more about CBP agriculture specialists, please visit the website.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017