Agricultural specialists with U.S. Customs and Border Protection found larvae of the Khapra beetle, one of the world’s most destructive insects to grains, cereals, and stored foods, in the luggage of a woman arriving Aug. 3 at Philadelphia International Airport from Sudan, the agency said Friday.
Upon the woman’s arrival, the CPB referred the woman to a secondary agricultural inspection and there specialists discovered the larvae in dried berries in her luggage.
The specimens were submitted to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist who confirmed that they were Khapra beetle larvae.
“The Khapra beetle poses a serious threat to our nation’s agriculture and to our economy,” said Shawn Polley, CBP acting port director for the Philadelphia area. “Our best defense against destructive pests like the Khapra beetle is to prevent their entry into the United States and that is a mission that Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists take very seriously.”
Khapra beetles are highly tolerant of insecticides and fumigants, and can survive long periods without food. Previous beetle infestations have resulted in massive and long-term eradication programs at great cost to taxpayers, the CBP said.