‘Dangerous’ moth not seen for 110 years is discovered in passenger’s bag at Detroit Metropolitan Airport

The moths were found in pods that a passenger claimed were for medicinal tea

click to enlarge A moth from the family Pyralidae was found in a passenger's bag at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. - CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION
Customs and Border Protection
A moth from the family Pyralidae was found in a passenger's bag at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

A moth not seen since 1912 was discovered in a passenger's bag at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists discovered seeds during an inspection of an arriving passenger from the Philippines in September 2021. The passenger claimed the pods were for medicinal tea.

But CBP specialists spotted what appeared to be insect exit holes in the seed pods and placed them in quarantine while analyzing the moth larvae and pupae. While in quarantine, “very flashy” moths hatched.

Based on the physical characteristics, inspectors concluded the moths were members of the family Pyralidae but could not determine the genus or species, so the specimens were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for further review.

A USDA Smithsonian Institution entomologist confirmed the specimen was a moth that hasn’t been seen since it was described in 1912, CBP said Monday.

It also marks the first time the larvae or pupae has been collected.

“This discovery is a testament to their important mission of identifying foreign pests and protecting America’s natural resources,” Port Director Robert Larkin said.

Each year, CBP agriculture specialists intercept tens of thousands of so-called “actionable pests,” which are considered "dangerous to the health and safety of U.S. agricultural resources."

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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