US customs found a swarm of 630 live insect larvae crawling in a shipment of artificial flowers at New York’s JFK airport: “single pest can cause millions of dollars in damages”

US customs found a swarm of 630 live
US Customs and Border Protection

Earlier this month, US customs authorities investigating a parcel at New York’s JFK Airport discovered hundreds of insect larvae hidden in a batch of plastic flowers.

The postal package of fake flowers from Kenya contained 630 live bug larvae and was intercepted on May 3, according to a statement issued by US Customs and Border Protection on Thursday.

The flowers are being detained by agriculture specialists from the agency in order to “prevent the spread of pests,” according to the USCBP.

The authorities did not specify which bug species the larvae were from.

“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.

On a typical day, the USCBP detects around 240 pests and seizes 2,677 unlawful agricultural products across the United States, according to the report.

The agency identified an insect in a batch of fresh flowers imported from Mexico in February. According to government records, the small, black insect known as Corimelaena palmeri was a nuisance that had never previously invaded the United States.

Border agents have even intercepted insects aboard flights, such as when the USCBP discovered an undesirable beetle in the passenger cabin of a plane landing in Puerto Rico from Senegal in March 2022.

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