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Destructive pest found in rice shipment
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the port of Baltimore have discovered that a shipment of rice from Pakistan was infested with Khapra Beetle larvae. The CBP agriculture specialists did not find any live larvae, but immediately collected specimens of the dead larvae and sealed the container.
The specimens were forwarded to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist who confirmed them as Trogoderma granarium, commonly known as Khapra Beetle. The importer was issued an Emergency Action Notice requiring the 1,066 carton, 43,000 pound shipment of rice to be re-exported or destroyed. The importer chose to have the shipment re-exported.
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.
“Khapra Beetle is one of the most invasive insects CBP agriculture specialists encounter,” said Dianna Bowman, CBP area port director for Baltimore. “And we take our mission to intercept these destructive pests and protect America’s agricultural industry 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 infestations 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.
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 U.S. and intercept 4,379 prohibited meat, plant materials, or animal products, including 440 insect pests.
CBP agriculture specialists check containers and trucks for smuggled agricultural products or packaging materials that might contain invasive species that could harm our agriculture and environment.
They examine wooden pallets that could hide the larvae of wood-boring insects poised to attack native trees or nursery stock. They make sure that imported fruits and vegetables are pest-free.
The CBP agriculture specialists work with specialized x-ray machines that detect organic materials. They utilize agricultural canines specifically trained to sniff out meat and plant materials in international airport passenger areas.