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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Destructive' Pakistani Insects in Oakland Intercepted by Border Agents

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

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Heave a sigh of relief, Bay Area residents. The Khapra beetle, an invasive and "extremely destructive" arthropod, has been foiled -- for now -- in its evil designs upon the human race's grain silos by agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

In a news release today, CBP announced that a team of its agriculture specialists had detected live larvae of the beetle -- "considered one of the world's most destructive pests of grain products and seeds" in a shipment of rice coming into Oakland from Pakistan.

Left to its own devices, the Khapra, which is native to India, can

reportedly eat its way through up to 70 percent of grain stores to which

it has access. It was eradicated in the U.S. in 1966, and has been

subject to federal quarantine since then.

The larvae themselves aren't easy to recognize. "The diligent effort required in spotting this pest is underscored by the fact that the specimens are extremely small, and they were nestled in among a container full of palletized goods," Richard Vigna, San Francisco director of field operations for CBP, said in a statement.

Forget giant, mutant insects. It's the little guys you have to worry about. Way to justify that budget, Homeland Security.

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Peter Jamison

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