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CBP Uncovers Moth Never Before Seen in U.S.

Release Date: 
July 9, 2010

Houston - A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist, employed at the Houston/Galveston Seaport, made an amazing discovery while examining a shipment of tiles originating in Italy.

This image, which is not of the actual specimen found, shows an adult Noctuidae moth.

This image, which is not of the actual specimen found, shows an adult Noctuidae moth.

During the examination, the agriculture specialist encountered an insect among the imported tile that had not previously been discovered in the U.S.

"I am extremely proud of the effort our agriculture specialists put forth every day," said Port Director Michael Sinclair. "They are America's front line against foreign pests and plant diseases that have the potential to destroy our agriculture, and they take that job seriously."

The specimen was removed April 20 from the shipment and sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Inspection Station entomologist for identification, and was subsequently forwarded to the national identifier.

The national identifier determined the insect to be Bryophila sp. (Noctuidae) and confirmed, on June 29, that this is the first interception of this genus recorded in the U.S.

The Noctuidae species are a family of moths that have been classified as a serious agriculture pest due to the harmful effect they may have on American agriculture and environment. The Noctuidae larvae, or caterpillar, are extremely harmful to plants and crops because of the species' eating habits. The caterpillars eat plant material and fruits. They live in soil and feed at night. Once the caterpillar becomes a moth, it can fly, spreading infestations across the country.

The U.S. spends millions of dollars each year in pesticides in order to prevent catastrophic damage to agriculture, homes, forests and water ways.

The tile shipment was treated for pests and released.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017