Saturday, August 27, 2011

Khapra Beetle

Trogoderma granarium
There has been quite the tizzy recently over these tiny insects, and for very good reason. The Khapra Beetle is one of the most dangerous invasive species in the entire world! A specimen in larval form was found in a grain shipment that entered Chicago from India. That larvae was enough to reject the entire shipment; these guys are that bad. The last time the Unted States saw a major outbreak, in 1953, it took 13 years and several million dollars to eradicate.

So what is it that makes these guys so frightening? Well, their favorite foods are dry, low-moisture grains. This, coupled with their small size, the fact that they can live for long periods of time without food, and are resistant to many insecticides, adds up to some serious trouble. If the Khapra Beetle gets into a stored grain supply, it can lead to massive damage, and they are incredibly difficult to get rid of. They are considered to be one of the worst grain pests on the planets, and one of the world's worst invasive species.

Khapra Beetles are antive to India, but by this point they have spread to other parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and several Mediterrannean countries. They measure only 2-3cm long as adults, and only about 5mm as larvae, so they are remarkable hard to detect if they get into a rice supply. They can consume food that contains as little as 2% moisture, which means that while they will eat all sorts of plant matter, stored grains are a particular favorite.

Though US Customs has been sucessful in keeping these Beetles ouf the country for 40 odd years, they number of interceptions has been particularily high this year. From January to April 2011 they had uncovered more Khapra beetles then in all of 2010 combined. Overall, the trend has been rising year to year, requiring more vigilance to keep the invading bug out. Shipments that contain evidence of only dead Beetles are even rejected, in order to really play it safe.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Originated in India
Size : Length up to 3cm
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Coleoptera
Family : Dermestidae -- Genus : Trogoderma -- Species : T. granarium

1 comment:

  1. Many people who visit your blog may not know this fact about Beetles:Beetles are the dominant form of life on earth: one of every five living species is a beetle. Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, containing a third of all insect species. There are about 300,000 known species worldwide, 30,000 of which live in North America!


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