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