NEWARK — The khapra beetle, a highly invasive pest that feeds on dry grains, was eradicated from the United States thanks to a costly and coordinated effort by the government in the 1950s and '60s.
But the khapra beetle has been turning up more frequently at U.S. points of entry, including the Port of New York and New Jersey, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported finding the beetles in two shipments of rice from Pakistan less than a month apart.
The shipments were not allowed to enter the country, and the importer was given the choice of destroying the rice or shipping it back to Pakistan, the agency said.
Anthony Bucco, a spokesman for the customs agency, declined to identify the importer involved in either shipment.
In both incidents, the customs agency said the tiny brown beetles, which measure 2-3 millimeters long, were found on the outside of plastic and burlap sacs full of rice.
The more recent incident involved two dead beetle larvae said to have been found amid a Pakastani rice shipment on Friday. The earlier incident, on July 26, involved what the agency said was a dead khapra beetle larva and one cast skin