ROMULUS, Mich. – A species of moth that has not been seen for 110 years has been found in the luggage of a passenger who flew in Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists said they first encountered the butterflies during a September 2021 inspection of a flight at DTW.
They said they discovered seeds in the personal luggage of a passenger who had arrived from the Philippines. This person claimed that the pods were for medicinal tea, according to CBP.
When inspecting the seeds more closely, officials said they noticed apparent insect exit holes in the pods. Moth larvae and pupae were collected for further analysis. While in quarantine, several hatched to reveal “very flashy” moths with raised patches of black hairs, CBP experts said.
Physical characteristics of the butterflies indicated that they belonged to the family Pyralidae, but experts could not determine the genus or species. The specimens were submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture for further identification.
ACCORDING TO A CBP RELEASE, a USDA Smithsonian Institute entomologist has confirmed that this is the first encounter of this butterfly species since it was first described in 1912.
It was also the first time that larvae or pupae associated with this species had been collected, officials said.
“Agricultural specialists play a vital role at our nation’s ports of entry by preventing the introduction of harmful alien plant pests and exotic animal diseases into the United States,” said Port Manager Robert Larkin. . “This discovery is testament to their important mission of identifying alien pests and protecting America’s natural resources.”
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