Khapra beetle

Khapra beetle found in bag at Metro Airport (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Border Agents Find Invasive Beetles In Bag At Detroit Metro Airport

July 06, 2018 - 9:09 am

ROMULUS (WWJ/AP) - A woman traveling from Iraq to Detroit Metro Airport was found to be carrying seeds infested with an invasive beetle.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday that agriculture specialists discovered the Khapra beetles Nov. 23 at the airport, in Romulus. They were in a bag of seeds the woman planned to sow in her garden.

The Khapra beetle is considered one of the world's most destructive pests for stored grains, cereals and seeds.

"Whether it is a souvenir or food, these items bring a sense of comfort to those yearning for a connection to a place visited or where they grew up.  Unfortunately, that piece of home may be hiding something destructive," CBP said, in a news release.

This small but persistent insect has a wide-ranging appetite, officials said, and can spoil anything from stored corn to pasta.  It also very difficult to control because it can survive without food for long periods and can resist many insecticides.

“We are fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of CBP personnel with a range of expertise to include the detection and interception of invasive pests, ensuring the protection of our agricultural resources,” said Area Port Director, Devin Chamberlain.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said the woman, who lives in Michigan, "did not intentionally bring pests with her" and is not facing charges. Her name was not released. 

Khapra beetles were found in January at Washington Dulles International Airport in rice brought from Saudi Arabia and in February at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in cow peas brought from Nigeria.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.