Feared pest found in shipment

May 5, 2009 10:02:18 AM PDT
US Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted evidence that one of the world's most feared pests, the Khapra Beetle, was hidden in a shipment of furniture and household items Wednesday.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Khapra Beetle is considered as one of the 100 worst invasive species worldwide and if allowed to establish would be difficult to control because of its ability to tolerate insecticides and fumigants.

"This interception is an example of the level of vigilance among our officers and agriculture specialists in protecting American agriculture from exotic pests and diseases," said Jeffrey O. Baldwin Sr., director of Houston Field Operations, US Customs and Border Protection.

Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists collected Khapra Beetle cast skins from straw brooms and burlap sacks within the container and sent them off to the USDA to confirm that they were indeed the notorious Khapra Beetle.

The Khapra Beetle is known to infest a variety of dried plant and animal materials, spices, dried fruits and other natural goods. It is also capable of surviving and developing solely on grains and can live without food for long periods.

Customs and Border Protection sealed the container and is safeguarding it and its contents until the importer re-exports the container and this dangerous agriculture pest.

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