What to Know
- The khapra beetle is native to India, but has spread to countries in Africa, the Middle East and pockets of Europe and Asia
- It is considered one of the worst invasive species worldwide
- The khapra beetle is an extremely serious pest of grain and other stored products, but it can show up in non obvious food locations
Customs officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport thwarted the entrance of one of the world's most destructive pests to the U.S. last week.
Agriculture specialists with U.S. Customs and Border Protection were checking out a shipment of personal effects, including clothes, spices and coffee, from Saudi Arabia Jan. 19 when they discovered a suspected Trogoderma specimen -- a khapra beetle -- in rice contained in one of the boxes, officials say.
The specimen was sent to the local U.S. Department of Agriculture, which concluded it was in fact a khapra beetle, one of the globe's most dubious destroyers of grain products and seeds.
The khapra beetle is considered one of the 100 worst invasive species worldwide, customs officials said. It is native to India, but has spread to countries in Africa, the Middle East and pockets of Europe and Asia.
"CBP Agriculture Specialists have once again made a critical intercept of a destructive pest that could potentially cause grave damage to our Agricultural and Economic vitality," said Robert E. Perez, Director, Field Operations, New York Field Office.