Sterling, Va. — Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted 14 live and 10 dead Khapra Beetles, one of the world’s most destructive insect pests, last Thursday in a shipment of personal effects from Saudi Arabia.
The Khapra Beetles, discovered inside three burlap bags of rice, are considered one of the 100 most invasive species in the world. The shipment was destined for Washington, D.C.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed on Monday that the insect pests were indeed Khapra Beetles.
“Khapra Beetle is one of the most destructive and invasive insects CBP agriculture specialists encounter, and we take our mission to intercept these dangerous pests very seriously,” said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington. “Khapra Beetle poses significant threats to our nation’s agriculture, to our economy and to the health of our citizens.”
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.
CBP has observed a significant increase in Khapra Beetle interceptions across the nation. These interceptions led the USDA to issue restrictions on importation of rice from nations in which Khapra Beetle is known to occur. For more information on these restrictions, please visit ( APHIS )
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 454 insect pests.
“CBP agriculture specialists take their role of protecting our nation’s agriculture very seriously,” said Hess. “They are a critical part of CBP’s mission to protect our nation against all potential threats.”
To learn more about CBP agriculture specialists, please visit ( Agriculture Specialist Fact Sheet (pdf - 33 KB.) )
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.