Invasive Khapra Beetles intercepted at O’Hare Airport twice in one month

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Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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CHICAGO — Considered one of the world’s most destructive pests, Khapra Beetles were discovered in two incidents at O’Hare Airport in one month.

On July 8, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture K9 “Emeril” was alerted to a passenger’s belongings while screening baggage arriving from India. During a search, officers found undeclared food items including pickled mutton, curry leaves, various fruits, seeds for planting, raw peanuts, and rice with live pests visible. In total, six different pests were intercepted, including a positive identification of the Khapra Beetle.

On June 27, CBP agriculture specialists discovered and identified what appeared to be Khapra Beetle cast skins on dried hibiscus leaves inside sealed plastic bags containing rice, spices and dried hibiscus leaves while inspecting the belongings of an international traveler arriving from Iraq.

Due to the significant agricultural threat posed by these pests, all food items were seized and the specimens were forwarded to the local USDA Plant Inspection Station where they were positively identified and destroyed.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Khapra Beetle poses a substantial risk to stored food products such as grains and packaged foods. The insects are extremely difficult to eradicate, since they can survive for long periods without food or moisture, and are resistant to many insecticides. Previous Khapra beetle infestations have resulted in massive, long-term control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer.

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