The United States Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that, on April 28, customs officers at the Miami airport had seized a package that had been sent by mail from the United Kingdom that contained eleven live caterpillars of the Asian Attacus atlas moth, a potentially dangerous pest for fruit trees due to its high voracity.
"Introducing these caterpillars into our farming system could cause immeasurable damage," said Christopher Maston, the director of the CBP port of entry at Miami International Airport. In its caterpillar phase, this endemic Asian insect measures up to 12 centimeters and once it's a moth it can be up to 27 centimeters wide with its wings spread.
The eleven caterpillars were sent to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Miami Plant Inspection Station for identification.
Maston said that the seizure of the caterpillars in Miami was part of a critical job to protect the US agricultural industry by preventing the introduction of harmful pests into the country.
The CBP noted that they had confiscated nearly 118,000 potentially dangerous pests at US ports of entry during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended last September.