(CBS) — It’s public enemy number one, especially if you’re a farmer — a creature so destructive it can wipe out crops by the acre.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot got a firsthand look at the people and pooches trying to keep it away.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist sifts through rice, confiscated from an international passenger at O’Hare International Airport, on a mission to locate the khapra beetle.
“Looking for a small microscopic pest, through all sorts of food products, including rice, is one of the most challenging parts of our mission here,” the agency’s area port director, Matthew Davies, says.
“We’ve recently seen a large uptick in khapra beetle that can destroy up to 30 percent of a crop and make 70 percent unusable, for consumption of grain-type products.”
Customs has two lines of defense when it comes to detecting items that shouldn’t be brought into the U.S. There are human inspectors and the four-legged kind.
“The beagles are a key asset for us. They can find so much more than any agricultural specialist can,” Davies says.
Davies says one beagle, Frodo, has found 20,000 prohibited items in the past four years.
Meanwhile, a Belgian Malinois named Lois, along with officers, have found several million dollars’ worth in unreported cash each year.