The tiny Khapra beetle (Photo: DAWE)

July 20, 2021

Shipping containers packed in countries identified as high-risk for khapra beetles must now undergo treatment offshore if they are to be unpacked in a rural grain-growing area in Australia.

The move, which came into force on July 12, is the latest phase of a string of urgent actions being taken by the Federal Government against the invasive pest.

Department of Agriculture spokesperson Andrew Tongue said the measure was an important step in keeping Australia free from khapra beetle.

Khapra beetles (Trogoderma granarium) are native to India but have spread to many parts of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The tiny beetles infest stored grain.

“Global markets rely on international trade, and Australia is no exception,” Mr Tongue said.

“But what we don’t want is contaminants and pests hitching a ride into Australia on sea containers.

“The khapra beetle is Australia’s number two national priority plant pest, and for very good reasons.

“It’s a highly invasive pest that poses a major threat to Australia’s grains industry.

“The beetle destroys grain, making it unfit for consumption for humans and animals, and it also poses a health risk, causing stomach, breathing and skin irritation issues.

“Around 80 per cent of our grain exports would be at risk if we were to have a khapra beetle outbreak, and it would cost our economy $15.5 billion over 20 years.

“We can’t risk complacency. Khapra beetles can live for several years without food – it will hide undetected in cracks and under the floors of sea containers.

“Everyone needs to play their part to protect Australia’s biosecurity.”

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