The khapra beetle, a major stored-product and food pest in large swatches of Asia and Africa, has been listed as one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world. The khapra beetle is native to the Indian subcontinent, and its discovery in California in 1953 led to a massive effort to control and eradicate it, which cost the government $15 million and continued until 1966. When khapra beetles do turn up, they trigger an immediate and aggressive response from state and federal government agriculture departments, because once an infestation takes root, this insect becomes extremely difficult to control – think of the khapra beetle as the bed bug of stored product pests – and because two-thirds of the United States is environmentally suited to khapra beetle habitation, including large parts of California. Khapra beetle larvae will feed on many different stored foods – whole grains like wheat, especially, but also barley and rice, and they also have been observed feeding on alfalfa hay, alfalfa seeds, black-eyed peas, bran, chickpeas, coconuts, corn, cottonseed meal, dried blood, dried fruit, dried milk, dried orange pulp, fishmeal, flaxseeds, flour, grain straw, ground nuts, hominy grits, lentils, lima beans, malt, noodles, nutmeats, oats, peanuts, pinto beans, powdered yeast, rye, sorghum seeds, spaghetti, tomato seeds and wheat germ, among other things. When infestations show up, it’s often in the form of masses of khapra beetle larvae and cast-off skins in the surface layers of stored food products.
If you think you’ve found khapra beetles or their larvae, your county agriculture department needs to know about it immediately; this is what you might call a “zero-tolerance pest,” and agricultural authorities will investigate aggressively. If you’re not sure, as they easily are confused with other Trogoderma beetles, your Clark Pest Control technician can make a positive identification.
Latin name: Trogoderma granarium