U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently found a khapra beetle, which is considered a destructive pest, inside a package of dried beans from Nigeria, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to the border agencys spokeswoman.
Tasha Mashburn said the pest was sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where its identity was confirmed.
The khapra beetle is one of the worlds most ruinous insects to stored seed and grain products, she said. The beetle is a ravenous feeder, and is difficult to control.
Once it is introduced to an area, Mashburn said, it consumes a variety of dried materials, is resistant to insecticides, and can survive without food for long periods of time.
The dried beans were confiscated and destroyed by Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists, to deter the insect from entering the country, said Mashburn.
Our best defense against many destructive pests, including the khapra beetle, is to prevent their entry into the United States, added Stephen Kremer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection area port director in Atlanta.
This is the sixth time in 2011 that a khapra beetle has been detected in products at Hartsfield-Jackson, Mashburn said. Before this year, she explained, the pest had not been intercepted entering through Atlanta since 2006.