Grain pest intercepted at Texas port

Published: Jan. 27, 2011 at 3:37 PM

HOUSTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. agriculture specialists in Galveston, Texas, intercepted a vessel infested with one of the world's most destructive pests this month, port officials said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection specialists said the ship, which arrived at the Houston/Galveston Seaport Jan. 22, was infested with Khapra beetle larvae, KHOU-TV, Houston, reported.

The vessel was quarantined and samples of the pests were sent to the Smithsonian for final identification.

The Khapra beetle feeds on grain products and seeds and is a threat to agriculture because of its resistance to insecticides and fumigants, CBP officials said.

Port officials said the vessel was previously found to be infested in New York, where it was quarantined but left port without a fumigation treatment.

An insect treatment for the ship was ordered while it was at a port in the Dominican Republic, and a treatment certificate was forwarded to Houston, its next port of call.

But that treatment apparently failed.

"The coordination and communication between New York, San Juan, Washington, D.C., and Houston allowed our agriculture specialists to identify a vessel of high risk," Houston/Galveston Port Director Michael Sinclair said.

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