WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations (OFO) agriculture specialists (CBPAS) intercepted nine Khapra beetle larvae and two skin casts from a bag of dried chick peas in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) Plant Inspection Station (PIS) positively identified the specimens as Trogoderma granarium, commonly known as Khapra beetle.
The Khapra Beetle is considered one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods and remains the only insect in which CBP takes regulatory action against even while in a dead state.
"CBP Preclearance locations have the unique capability to search for and intercept these invasive insects prior to departure for the United States”, said Douglas Truesdale, CBP port director for Abu Dhabi Preclearance. “The continued interceptions of Khapra beetle by CBP in Abu Dhabi are a small testament to the hard work our employees perform on a daily basis to protect the U.S. agriculture industry. “
The agriculture specialists discovered the insects in a 4.4 pound bag of chick peas inside a passenger’s checked luggage originating from Karachi, Pakistan. CBP seized the chick peas and forwarded the specimens to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – JFK PIS for identification. The chick peas were seized and destroyed.
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 beetle can also tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods of time without food.
According to APHIS, previous infestations of Khapra beetle have resulted in 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—$90 million in today’s dollars.
CBP agriculture specialists receive extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, 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’s agriculture protection mission, visit Protecting Agriculture on the CBP website.
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.