On Tuesday, August 23, 2011 U.S. Customs and Border Patrol intercepted the feared Khapra Beetle. This beetle is not native to the United States, it is extremely hard to kill and could potentially damage this country’s grain industry. The beetle larvae was caught at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in bags of rice. Unfortunately, this is not the first discovery pertaining to this insect.
So what would happen if such an insect escaped and began to flourish in America? “It’s going to disrupt our economy, because of the volume of grain and wheat exported by farmers,” Customs spokesman Brian Bell said. “Countries know they’re getting a clean product (from the U.S.).”
The beetle is 2 to 3 mm long, and can damage up to 70% of grain. “It can cause intestinal problems if eaten,” officials admitted.
These beetles can survive for a long time without any source of food or water, and can nestle in spices, packaged food and in stored grain. These tiny creatures can hide in the smallest cracks and crevices which makes them very hard to kill with chemicals.
So far from January 2011 to June 26th, there have been 100 khapra beetle interceptions throughtout the country. That is 15 times higher than the reports taken from 2007 to 2009!
The beetle has infested us before. Actually, in 1953 they discovered the khapra beetles in California. It cost millions of dollars and a 13 year fight to eliminate them as they spread from California to Arizona and infested farming storage bins, warehouses and mills.
So what stops a terrorist cell from switching tactics from nuclear to insect? If the goal is an economic hardship they could damage not only the U.S. but the entire world as we are still the leading exporter of grain.
Luckily we have hard working men and women watching our boards and customs, they intercepted 92,476 foreign plants, pathogens, invasive insects and foreign species last year! We seldom think of these hard-working Americans, but their jobs help keep us and our food safe.
But it only takes a few invasive insects to wreck havoc on us. . .