Did you know that UPS has a Beetle Exclusion Team? These “bug busters” work to ensure that Japanese beetles don’t catch a ride on UPS aircraft. They are assigned to all aircraft going to West Coast destinations — regions that are responsible for producing more than 60 percent of the United States’ produce and flowers. The beetles themselves are unable to fly across the Rocky Mountains area and are sometimes transported via airplane to the West Coast where, if untreated, they could be devastating to the nation’s food supplies.
The Japanese beetle invasion around Louisville (where WorldPort is located) and other gateways typically begins in June and lasts for a couple of months. But due to a mild winter and unseasonably warm temperatures this spring, UPS bug busters are unsure how this season will play out.
“We saw our first bug on Memorial Day this year, which is uncharacteristic for the beetles, but our teams were already prepared. With the relatively warm winter and warm spring, we already had our nets up on the K-loaders (deck loading equipment used to load and unload containers from aircraft) and had already been looking for them,” said hub supervisor Rick Adkins. “With our designated bug busters team in Louisville, it’s about 65 UPS employees against 60,000 beetles.”
Each aircraft is assigned four bug team members who are responsible for that particular aircraft each day it is in Louisville. Nets are attached to K-loaders and the Beetle Exclusions Team has the cargo doors of the aircraft completely engulfed within 30 seconds. Once the nets are in place, containers can be unloaded. When the plane is empty, the bug team will walk the entire plane with flashlights and vacuum cleaners looking for any sign of beetles.
For more behind the scenes information about WorldPort, watch this video about our meteorologists.