“Devastating” Beetle Found in UPS Package Bound for Brooklyn

Banned Beetle Denied at Border

A terrible little beetle in an oat box almost made the trip over from India earlier this month, but was caught by U.S. Customs and Border agents before it could do any harm.

The Khapra beetle, a bug that can grow up to and around 3 millimeters and has been called one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world, was found in a UPS shipment in Louisville on February 2nd. The package, which reportedly contained "prayer-related items and grains from India," was bound for Brooklyn.

Brian Bell, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the beetles "can become very devastating to the economy. You can have a significant reduction to our export of grain if these things were common throughout the United States.”

Banished from the U.S. after being found (PDF source) in used bags in California in 1953, its home is in areas such as the Middle East, Africa, and eastern Asia. It is a so-called "dirty feeder," meaning it causes more harm than just eating the grain in which it sometimes is found. Its body is covered in tiny hairs that stick to the grain, and it has the potential to cause quite a stir in one's digestive system should it be ingested.

The beetle found in this package was still in its larval stage, which according to one picture I saw online, looks like a delicious little corn puff. But thanks to Louisville Custom agents, that unlucky little corn puff was denied at the border and our grain exports are, for the moment, safe.

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