Destructive Pest Found at D.C. Airports

By Tonya LaFleur
|  Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011  |  Updated 8:11 AM EDT
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USDA.gov

Khapra Beetle, Trogoderma granarium

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D.C. area customs agents are stepping up their search for one of the world's most destructive insects.

The Khapra beetle has been found on several occasions recently at Dulles International Airport. It has also showed up at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The pest is sneaky because it often piggy-backs in on imported food.  The most common carriers include rice from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

It’s not only American agriculture that is at risk from the Khapra beetle; it can also make people sick.  Several people who have eaten foods contaminated by the beetle have been hospitalized with severe digestive issues. 

And passengers may not realize they are carrying the beetle in their food.

“It's usually an honest mistake, the common passenger is not meaning to deceive us, but they general don't think about what it is that they're bringing right away,” said Jeffrey Davis, Agriculture Specialist with U.S. Customs.

The attempt to avoid reporting food can result in a $300 fine for the first offense.
 

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