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For the second time this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Norfolk have intercepted a shipment containing Khapra beetles — an invasive pest that typically targets grains, cereals and stored foods, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The shipment of rice, originally from Pakistan, was re-exported Thursday, Sept. 8 after skins from the beetles were found inside a sea container under a plastic liner between the rice and the container floor.
There were three Khapra beetle interceptions in Norfolk last year — a small fraction of the 470 pests at U.S. ports of entry found every day, according to Customs and Border Protection.
These interceptions are important, said Rob Brisley, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection.
“People may not realize a small insect such as a beetle that finds itself in our food products the damage could be immeasurable,” he said. “The beetle itself can damage grain or the food products which cause significant problems if it comes into the country.”
This beetle, which damages more grain than it consumes, also contaminates grain with its body parts and hairs, according to a release. They can survive for long periods of time without food. It’s the only insect that customs officials takes regulatory action against, even when it’s dead, the release said.
“When it comes to keeping the country safe, it’s amazing how they can really cause damage and affect a lot of what we take for granted here in our country, whether it’s food products, wood products, materials,” Brisley said.