Khapra Beetle Discovered At Chicago Customs, Called World’s Worst Pest

US Customs agents are put on high alert for a variety of reasons but one of those high alerts may surprise you, it turns out the Khapra Beetle is a big deal at US Customs offices.

How dangerous are the beetles to our eco-system? A recent Chicago Tribune article appeared with the title ‘Most feared’ pest found in shipment at O’Hare.

That title was created after customs officials found a cast skin and larva in two 10-pound bags of rice.

So how dangerous are the beetles? Here’s a warning from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

— “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.”

— It “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.”

— By April this year, “agriculture specialists [had] made 44 Khapra Beetle interceptions. This is more than the total interceptions in calendar year 2010.”

While US Customs agents are doing a good job of finding and killing the beetles the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal reports that the number of interceptions is on the increase:

“This year, CBP agriculture specialists have made 100 Khapra beetle interceptions at U.S. ports of entry compared to three to six per year in 2005 and 2006, and averaging about 15 per year from 2007 to 2009.”

The problem is so severe that even a dead khapra beetle can cause a shipment to be sent back to it’s original destination.