One of the world’s “most destructive pests” — khapra beetle larvae — was intercepted at the International Falls port of entry last month, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said Tuesday.
Found May 12 in a shipment of welding wire from China, the grain-ravaging beetles were sealed to prevent contamination and later identified.
“The Khapra beetle is a dangerous pest to American agriculture,” CBP Area Port Director Jason Schmelz said in a statement.
Native to India and now found on several continents, the khapra can burrow into dried grains, seeds and other stored goods and devastate supplies. CBP calls the beetle “an extremely serious threat” that has been found in packaging material such as burlap bags, corrugated boxes and animal hides.
The federal Department of Agriculture said that although the beetle does not often show up in the U.S., “khapra beetle interceptions at ports of entry have dramatically increased recently and the pest risk potential of khapra beetle is high.”
The larvae were likely accidental stowaways after the container they were in wasn’t cleaned out properly, CBP spokeswoman Kristi Lakefield said.