U.S. customs find 630 live insect larvae in shipment at NYC airport
The parcel was seized for violating USDA regulations and the flowers are being carefully contained by agriculture specialists to “prevent the spread of the pests”
May 25, 2023 8:39am
Updated: May 25, 2023 8:39am
U.S. customs officials at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport discovered hundreds of insect larvae hidden within a shipment of artificial flowers this month.
The shipment of plastic flowers had been mailed from Kenya but was seized on May 3 by officials. Upon further inspection, officials found more than 630 live insect larvae, according to a statement released on Thursday by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The parcel was seized for violating USDA regulations and the flowers are being carefully contained by agriculture specialists to “prevent the spread of the pests,” the agency added. However, USCBP did not specify what insects the larvae belonged to.
“This latest interception highlights the vigilance and dedication to duty that our CBP Agriculture Specialists demonstrate daily. By doing so, they ensure that the United States is safe from harmful pests entering our country that could potentially cause grave damage to our agricultural and economic vitality,” said Francis J. Russo, Director, Field Operations, New York Field Office.
On a typical day in Fiscal Year 2022, the USCBP encounters about 240 pests and 2.677 prohibited agricultural goods across the nation, the agency said. At JFK alone, around 28,000 prohibited agricultural items have been seized and more than 4,500 pests have been discovered.
"Although many are tiny and seem innocuous, pests can delay global trade, and destabilize our national economy and food supply. A single pest can cause millions of dollars in damages," the agency said.
In March, USCBP found six live giant African snails inside a piece of luggage at the Detroit Metro Airport. The snails, which were found inside the suitcase of a traveler who had arrived from Ghana, were all meant to be eaten. However, giant African snails can pose health risks to humans and the environment because they can carry a parasitic nematode that can cause meningitis in humans.