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Officials nab seeds infested with invasive Khapra beetles at Detroit Metro Airport

Khapra Beetle (Pest and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org)
Khapra Beetle (Pest and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org)

Officials at Detroit Metro Airport were able to dispose of invasive beetles that were found in a woman's bag of seeds.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists encountered an unsuspecting passenger arriving from Iraq. The traveler was attempting to bring some seeds to grow in her garden but little did she know, those seeds were infested with Khapra beetles. 

Officials said the woman did not intentionally bring the beetles with her and she will not face charges.

The Khapra beetle is considered to be one of the world's most destructive pests of stored grain products and seeds.

This small but persistent insect has a wide-ranging appetite and can spoil anything from stored corn to pasta. It also very difficult to control because it can survive without food for long periods and can resist many insecticides.

"We are fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of CBP personnel with a range of expertise to include the detection and interception of invasive pests, ensuring the protection of our agricultural resources," said Area Port Director, Devin Chamberlain.

Local and National United States Department of Agriculture identifiers recently concurred with the identification of the discovery.

The beetles were destroyed via stem sterilization.

More on the Khapra Beetle:

Its feeding damage often spoils 30 percent of the product; up to 70 percent damage has been reported. Previous U.S. detections of this tiny beetle have required massive, long-term and costly control and eradication efforts. Established infestations are difficult to control because the beetle can survive without food for long periods, requires little moisture, hides in tiny cracks and crevices, and is relatively resistant to many insecticides and fumigants.

  • The Khapra beetle is native to India and has become established in other countries in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia and Africa.
  • In 1953, an extensive infestation was found in California. Subsequent surveys revealed its presence in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. These infestations were eradicated in 1996. During 1980-1997, several other infestations were discovered and eradicated in isolated areas of California, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

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