‘Very flashy’ moth not seen since 1912 found in Detroit airport passenger’s luggage

Moth found in supply of medicinal tea

<p>A rare moth was found in a passenger’s luggage at the Detroit airport in September, 2021, before the specimen was seized by agricultural inspectors.</p>

A rare moth was found in a passenger’s luggage at the Detroit airport in September, 2021, before the specimen was seized by agricultural inspectors.

A rare moth not seen since 1912 was discovered in a passenger’s luggage at the Detroit airport, according to US Customers and Border Protection.

In September 2021, agricultural inspectors noticed intriguing holes in seed pods a passenger from the Philippines had brought to the US to use as medicinal tea.

Upon closer inspection, they were “apparent insect exit holes,” the agency said in a statement.

Officials found moths in the early larvae and pupae stage of physical development and collected them for analysis.

Eventually, the hatchlings grew into “very flashy” moths with raised black bristles and amber streaks on dark wings, but officials still weren’t able to identify them, so they were sent to the US Department of Agricultural.

There, alongside an insect expert from the Smithsonian Insitution, the bugs were ID’ed as Salma brachyscopalis Hampson months, which haven’t been seen in over a century.

The interception is the first time the larvae and pupae of the Hampson moth has been observed.

"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 in the statement. "This discovery is a testament to their important mission of identifying foreign pests and protecting America’s natural resources."

The insects were later killed via steam sterilization, NBC reports.

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