Imported khapra beetle quickly dispatched

4 June 2021
  • Khapra beetle detected by warehouse staff in WA in imported packaging
  • Quickly isolated and managed
  • Incursion could cost Australia $15.5 billion over 20 years

A detection of exotic khapra beetle in imported flat cardboard packaging was quickly reported by biosecurity trained staff at an Australian Biosecurity registered warehouse in WA last week.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said that unchecked, this pest could devastate Australia’s $7 billion grain export industry. 

“Strong biosecurity protects our $61 billion agriculture industries and the $53 billion it returns to the national bottom line each year though exports,” Minister Littleproud said. 

“It’s a big job—and a shared responsibility. No one group can do this alone.

“Last week, staff from an Australian Biosecurity registered warehouse in WA unpacked a shipment of imported cardboard packaging and found insect activity. 

“The cardboard was new and was not subject to biosecurity control but because of the biosecurity knowledge of the warehouse staff the discovery was reported immediately. 

“The warehouse staff are trained in biosecurity risks and recently received training in the risks of khapra beetle.

“The goods and the container were then isolated in a dedicated biosecurity area and were inspected and treated. 

“The staff have my utmost respect – their actions protect the livelihoods of hardworking Australian farming families.

“And they protect the integrity of Australian trade and our reputation for premium produce that is in demand across the globe.”

Minister Littleproud said an outbreak of khapra beetle, which is not established in Australia, could conservatively cost Australia $15.5 billion over 20 years.

“In the last twelve months, there has been a concerning increase in khapra beetle interceptions detected at our border, including in situations where it has hitchhiked on sea containers rather than in the imported goods,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Hitchhiker pests, such as khapra beetle, are increasing due to climate change, changing trade patterns, supply chain complexity and poor global shipping container hygiene.

“That is why we made a $14.5 million investment in December 2020 to strengthen khapra biosecurity measures at the border and invested a further $400 million in the recent budget. 

“It’s vital that industry and community support this work and report any pests of concern.”

To report a biosecurity concern visit awe.gov.au/report or call 1800 798 636.

Fast Facts:

  • Khapra beetle is Australia’s number two National Priority Plant Pest and high priority pest for our grains, nut and dried fruit industries.
  • Khapra beetle is highly invasive and feeds on stored products, causing significant loss and posing human health risks due to contamination. It is increasingly found on hitchhiking in containers and packaging.
  • Keep up to date on urgent actions being introduced to protect against khapra beetle and by registering for industry advice notices.
  • Actions include new import conditions for containers and goods, increased surveillance, enhanced inspections and treatment procedures, communication and training products, implementing an overseas treatment provider assurance program, and enhancements of electronic systems.
  • Use multilingual Australian Biosecurity posters on khapra beetle and sea container cleanliness to help keep Australia free of khapra beetle and other biosecurity risk material.