US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials seized eggs from a moth species not seen in the country for more than 100 years and which was being smuggled as herbal tea.
The species belongs to the Pyralidae family, one of the most rampant crop pests in the world.
The eggs were discovered in a passenger’s luggage at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) in Michigan while flying in from the Philippines.
CBP said in a statement Monday, “A recent interception of moths by agriculture specialists from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is now considered the first encounter of the species since 1912. .
“The initial meeting was incidental to a September 2021 inspection of a passenger flight arriving from the Philippines.”
They continued: “Agriculture specialists discovered seeds in the personal luggage of a passenger who claimed the pods were for medicinal tea.
“Upon closer inspection, apparent insect exit holes were discovered in the pods which were eventually intercepted by CBP.”
The statement added: “The moth larvae and pupae were collected for further analysis and, while in quarantine, many of the pupae hatched to reveal ‘very noticeable’ moths with raised spots of black bristles (bristles).
Physical characteristics indicated that the moths were members of the Pyralidae family, however agricultural specialists were unable to determine the genus or species and the specimens were sent to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for further investigation. . ID.
“A USDA Smithsonian Institution etymologist later confirmed with CBP that this was the first encounter of this moth species since it was first described in 1912.
“This was also the first time that any larvae or pupae associated with this species have been collected.”
Pyralidae moths can run rampant through grains, fruits and vegetables and are described as “economically important pests”.
Port Director Robert Larkin said, Agricultural specialists play a vital role in our nation’s ports of entry in preventing the introduction of harmful pests of exotic plants and foreign animal diseases into the United States.
“This discovery is a testament to their important mission to identify foreign parasites and protect America’s natural resources.”
CBP further said, “Each year, CBP agriculture specialists intercept tens of thousands of ‘viable pests’, those identified through scientific risk assessment and study as dangerous to the health and safety of American agricultural resources.” .
“All travelers entering the United States must declare the meat, fruit, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, animals, as well as plant and animal products (including soups or soup products) that they can bring.
“The declaration must cover all items carried in hold baggage, carry-on baggage or in a vehicle.
“By examining plants, animal products and associated items, CBP agriculture specialists in ports will determine if these items meet the requirements for entry into the United States.
“Failure to declare agricultural items may result in penalties for travelers who fail to do so.”
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.