U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations agricultural specialists at the Port of Baltimore discovered on Feb. 7 that a shipment of celery seed from India was infested with dead Khapra beetles.
The specialists immediately collected specimens of the dead insects and sealed the container. The specimens were forwarded to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist who confirmed them as Khapra beetles, one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods. It is the only insect that Customs takes regulatory action against even while in a dead state.
The beetle is labeled a “dirty feeder” because it damages more grain than it consumes, and because it contaminates the grain with body parts and hairs. These contaminants may cause gastrointestinal irritation in adults and especially sickens infants.
The importer was issued in emergency action notice requiring the 500-bag, 55,000 pound shipment of celery seed to be re-exported or destroyed. The importer chose to have the shipment re-exported.