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Border ag specialists encounter moths for first time since 1912

Border ag specialists encounter moths for first time since 1912

The moths belong to the Pyralidae family

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ag specialists discovered the presence of an insect not seen in the United States in 110 years.

In September 2021, inspectors at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport found seeds in the luggage of a passenger arriving from the Philippines, CBP said in a May 16, 2022 release.

Further investigation revealed insect exit holes in the seed pods, which the passenger claimed were for medicinal tea.

The inspectors found moth larvae and pupae which they collected for additional analysis.

Several of the pupae hatched to reveal “very flashy moths with raised patches of black setae (bristles),” CBP said.

USDA scientists confirmed the moths to be members of the Pyralidae family, also known as snout moths.

And a USDA entomologist from the Smithsonian Institution confirmed this was the first presence of a snout moth in the U.S. since 1912.

Other species in the snout moth family include the locust bean moth, which feeds on dates, and the lesser cornstalk borer, which can damage corn, soybean and wheat crops.

This discovery is an example of the work CBP ag specialists do to keep U.S. food security safe, said Robert Larkin, area port director with the Department of Homeland Security.

“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,” he said in a statement. “This discovery is a testament to their important mission of identifying foreign pests and protecting America’s natural resources.”

Earlier in May, CBP ag specialists in Texas discovered a rare pest.

Inspectors there found a Cochabamba sp. beetle, which belongs to the leaf beetle family.

Other insects in that family include southern corn leaf beetle and bean leaf beetles.

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