ROMULUS, Michigan – An extremely rare species of moth was recently encountered at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and is believed to be the first sign of the species since 1912.
The discovery was made during a US Customs and Border Protection inspection after a passenger from the Philippines arrived. When opening a personal bag, agricultural specialists discovered seed pods, which the passenger said were intended for medicinal tea.
Upon further examination, apparent insect exit holes were discovered in the pods which were eventually intercepted by officers.
Moth larvae and pupae were collected during the September 2021 incident for further analysis.
During their quarantine, several pupae hatched to reveal “very flashy” butterflies with raised patches of black hair, customs officers said.
Physical characteristics indicated that the butterflies belonged to the family Pyralidae, but the specimens were sent to the United States Department of Agriculture for further testing.
A USDA Smithsonian Institution etymologist later confirmed the findings and noted that this was the first time a larva or pupa associated with this species had been collected.
“Agricultural specialists play a vital role at our country’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.”
According to conservationists, corn borer moths are not usually seen out in the open because they are sheltered as caterpillars when feeding, by boring into the stems, fruits and seeds of plants. Some species even eat grain stored by farmers.
Every year, customs officers intercept tens of thousands of “exploitable pests” that are identified as being dangerous to the health and safety of the country’s agricultural resources.
New York Post