By Sara Powers

(CBS DETROIT) – The first encounter with a moth species that hasn’t been seen since 1912 occurred after what a passenger claimed were seed pods, were seized at Detroit Metro Airport.

Moth species that hasn’t been seen since 1912. | Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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U.S. Border and Customs officials say that in Sept. 2021, a passenger traveling from the Philippines claimed that the seeds in his luggage were for medicinal tea, but upon investigation agriculture specialists found that the seeds had insect exit holes.

In the press release, U.S. Border and Customs officials said, “Moth larvae and pupae were collected for further analysis, and while in quarantine, several of the pupae hatched to reveal “very flashy” moths with raised patches of black setae (bristles).”

The physical characteristics of the moth showed that the moths were members of family Pyralidae, but specimens were submitted to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for further identification.

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Officials say a USDA Smithsonian Institution etymologist confirmed that this is the first encounter with this specific species of moth since 1912.

Every year, agriculture specialists intercept tens of thousands of “actionable pests”, which are identified through a scientific risk assessment as being dangerous to the health and safety of U.S. agricultural resources.

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