Travellers and Khapra Beetle

Travellers and Khaphra BeetleKhapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) is a small but serious pest, and we want to keep it out of Australia. As such, we are implementing urgent actions that will impact imports of plant products and sea containers. The urgent actions are being supported by a $14.5 million investment to safeguard Australia against this significant pest. Khapra beetle is found in Iran and Afghanistan. Travellers from these countries should be aware of the risk.

Thinking of travelling overseas? When you return to Australia, bring back your smile and memories of your holiday, but don’t bring back the Khapra beetle! They live in high-risk plant items including certain seeds, nuts, dried vegetables, herbs and spices. Iraq and Afghanistan on list of target-risk countries.

Khapra beetle is Australia’s number two National Priority Plant Pest and the number one plant priority pest for grains. It is not present in Australia, but it is a highly invasive pest that poses a major threat to Australia’s grains industry. Khapra beetle destroys grain quality making it unfit for human or animal consumption. 

A number of countries, including Australia, have seen a recent increase in khapra interceptions. It is being detected in:  

  • imported plant products 
  • goods that it previously had no association with 
  • sea containers as a hitchhiker pest
  • imports from countries not known to have khapra beetle.  

Learn more about: 

  • khapra beetle in our pest bulletin
  • the hitchhiking risk of khapra beetle in our article.



    What would you say if I told you that one of the biggest threats to our country is about three millimetres long? Believe me? If not, here’s a mug shot of the little criminal.
    Meet the khapra beetle. This beetle may be small, but they are the number one threat to Australia’s grain industries today. This tiny offender can do huge amounts of damage, both to our agricultural industries and our economy. If they decide to move to Australia, it could cost us $15.5 billion dollars over the next 20 years. A big score for a tiny criminal.

    These little guys are hitchhikers and once khapra beetles have hitched a ride in a sea container, they can settle in for the long haul.

    Khapra beetles can live in cracks and crevices of sea containers without food for a number of years. These guys are survivors and they love to travel. That makes a sea container the perfect vehicle for an extended holiday down under.

    They love dry food and hot conditions, so munching on leftover grain under the floor of a sea container makes for a perfect food source, and creates ideal conditions to start reproducing. And once they start, they really get going – with their population increasing fast.

    Once they’ve moved in and infested the place, just like bad roommates, they start leaving their stuff everywhere. Larval skins, hairs and waste can contaminate the contents of a container and be hazardous to humans – and let’s face it, we’re talking about bugs in our food. And skin. And bodily excretions. We definitely do not want that.

    Khapra beetles can devour large amounts of food and destroy the quality of it, devastating farmers’ stored grain and other products. On top of that, if Australia becomes home to the khapra beetle, other countries will refuse to trade with us, which will have a massive knock on effect on our economy. Plus we don’t want to be a country with bug excretions and bug skins in our grain.

    So what can we do? Well the best thing to do is keep a close eye out. Then we can stop them in their tracks – before they make their way off the docks and into our homes and grain stores. That means inspecting your containers, and immediately reporting any signs of khapra beetle.

    Remember, larvae, cast larval skins, waste, and damage to goods will be the clue that khapra beetle is present.

    Check the inside and underside, where possible. Under floor panels, corners, rails, twist lock fittings, cross members, and forklift pockets.

    If you see any signs of khapra beetle, don’t disturb them, take a photo, collect a sample if you can and report them right away. Call the See. Secure. Report. Hotline on 1800 798 636 or you can report online at


    Khapra beetle risk to Australia


Image Credit: Department of Agriculture


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