Washington - This calendar year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists have made 44 Khapra Beetle interceptions. This is more than the total interceptions in calendar year 2010. The interceptions were made in the passenger, air and sea cargo environment in nine CBP field offices, including San Francisco, New York, Houston and Chicago.
The Khapra Beetle, Trogoderma granarium Everts, is one of the world's most destructive stored-product pests. It is difficult to control once introduced into a region because it feeds on a variety of dried materials, is resistant to insecticides, and can go long periods without food. Infestations can result in up to 70 percent grain damage, making products inedible and unmarketable.
In 2005 and 2006, Khapra Beetle interceptions at U.S. ports of entry were three to six per year. The number began to increase in 2007, and for the next three years, CBP interceptions averaged 15 per year.
"Trend analysis clearly showed the increasing pathway for Khapra Beetles to enter the U.S.," said Thomas S. Winkowski, assistant commissioner for CBP field operations. "We saw the need for training, developed it with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and deployed it immediately to the field where it was needed."
After the training was deployed to CBP field offices in January 2010, a significant increase in Khapra Beetle interceptions were made. The training includes guidance for Khapra Beetle detection at airports, seaports, both the northern and southern border, preclearance, mail/express courier facilities, and military equipment and facilities. Currently, the U.S. has no known areas infested by the Khapra Beetle.
"CBP agriculture specialists and CBP officers take their role of protecting our nation's agriculture very seriously," said Winkowski. "They are a critical part of CBP's mission to protect our nation against all potential threats."
The Khapra Beetle originated in South Asia and is now present throughout much of northern Africa and the Middle East, with a limited presence in Asia, Europe, and southern Africa. In the U.S., Khapra Beetles were first found in California in 1953, which began a massive control and eradication effort until 1966. The infestation was successfully eradicated by fumigation in the U.S. and Mexico at a cost of approximately $11 million.