Hear about the world’s most feared grain pest from Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer in this short video
Khapra beetle is a destructive pest that can reproduce rapidly in stored products under hot conditions. There are many similar-looking native
Trogoderma species in Australia which make it difficult to identify.
If the pest were to establish in Australia, it could have detrimental impacts on our export-orientated grain industry. Many countries maintain quarantine restrictions against possible importation of this pest and prevent market access for infested produce.
Treatments are available but difficult to implement effectively, as larvae can maintain a state of very low metabolic activity and are extremely resistant to contact insecticides during this period.
Currently available treatments include fumigation using methyl bromide or phosphine.
See if you can identify the pest
Everyone needs to keep an eye out for khapra beetle.
Adult beetles are:
- oval in shape
- about 2 to 3 millimetres long.
They are covered in fine hairs that can rub off leaving the beetle shiny in appearance.
Adult females lay 50 to 100 at eggs a time, which can produce up to nine generations a year.
- appear very hairy, forming distinctive tufts over the body and giving the appearance of a short tail
- range in size from 1.6 to 5 millimetres long
- are initially pale yellow and become golden-brown when they grow.
The larvae go through 4 to 7 moulting stages, leaving behind numerous cast skins. In unfavourable conditions they can enter a dormant phase (diapause) for two or more years.
Khapra beetle can cause significant damage to stored grain products as the larvae crawl over, eat and contaminate the grain.
They can remain hidden in the stored product for long periods of time, with masses of hairy cast larval skins the only sign of infestation. These skins can be a human health risk and are difficult to remove from grain storage structures and transport vessels.
The most likely pathway for khapra beetles to be introduced to Australia is with the movement of contaminated grain and other goods, including food stuffs, personal effects, machinery.
Importers and travellers
If you work around imported goods you need to look for khapra beetles and its larvae within:
- stored products (especially grains, cereals and seeds)
- dried plant and animal material
- personal effects
- shipping containers
- on vessels and machinery.
If you have recently travelled or moved to Australia from a
khapra beetle country, check your luggage and personal effects for stowaways like the khapra beetle.
Growers and grain handlers
Khapra beetle may become present in grain and storage facilities. They are known to seek out cracks and crevices in bags, crates, containers or other storage items and therefore can quickly begin to spread through supplies.
Check what can legally come into Australia
All Australians and international tourists have a role to keep out exotic pests and diseases. Australia remains free of this exotic pest and we need your help to keep it this way.
Check what you can and cannot bring into Australia, whether you are a:
Watch out for this tiny hitchhiking menace
Hitchhiker pests can arrive in Australia on any goods, conveyances or personal effects. Khapra beetle is one such tiny invader that has spread globally.
Import restrictions and biosecurity measures
Some items, by law, are subject to certain import conditions to be allowed into Australia. Please check the
Biosecurity Import Condition System (BICON) to ensure your commodity is permitted.
Be aware of any Khapra beetle biosecurity measures that may be in place for incoming goods and conveyances.
Industry advice notices are reviewed regularly and could change.
Any trade of a good that comes from a known
khapra beetle country must be associated with a phytosanitary certificate declaring the product is free from Khapra beetle.
Secure any suspect specimens
Containment is critical. Khapra beetles do not fly, but can be readily moved around in infested goods. Try to locate the source of the infestation and secure it by sealing in a plastic bag or restricting access to the area.
Report detections of exotic pests
Any detections of khapra beetle must be reported to the authorities.
If you receive or work around goods imported from overseas, including mail, you need to be vigilant to Khapra beetle and other exotic pests. If you see an unusual pest, secure the goods to limit the movement of the pest and immediately report it to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resource’s
SEE.SECURE.REPORT. Hotline 1800 798 636 or by using the
Growers and grain handlers
If you see the khapra beetle or anything unusual, report it to the
Exotic Plant Pest Hotline1800 084 881. This will put you in touch with the department of primary industries or agriculture in your state or territory.
When reporting your concern, you will be given advice on handling the specimen and what to do next until an officer can investigate.