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‘Very flashy’ moth not seen in over a century found in bag at Detroit airport

A type of moth last seen more than a century ago was discovered in a traveler’s luggage at the Detroit airport last year, officials said Monday.

An expert from the Smithsonian Institution identified the insect as Salma brachyscopalis Hampsona moth was last seen in 1912, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Kris Grogan said in an email.

Larvae and nymphs of the moth were found in September at Detroit Metro Airport in a bag from the Philippines, Grogan said in a press release. The insects were inside pods that the passenger said were for medicinal tea, Grogan said.

Insect holes were found in the pods and moths were seized, Grogan said. The insects hatched in quarantine, revealing raised patches of black hairs.

The release describes the moth as “very flashy.”

An agricultural specialist believed that insects belonged to the Pyralidae family, a group with thousands of species worldwide, Grogan said. But the expert could not identify him further.

The Smithsonian expert then identified the species and said it was the first time larvae or pupae of the insect had been collected, the statement said.

It’s unclear where the sighting took place in 1912, the year the insect was first described, Grogan said in an email.

Grogan added that the moths found at the airport were “removed by steam sterilization”.

Joe Studley contributed.

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