Customs and Border Protection agents uncovered an attempt to smuggle praying mantis eggs in a plastic toy’s packaging through the Cincinnati Port of Entry on Tuesday.
According to a press release, the incoming freight was from Barcelona, Spain, and was part of a rising smuggling trade in mantids. Agents several months ago in Philadelphia found smuggled mantis egg cases in a gaming mouse, while in February eggs and larvae were found concealed in Xbox controllers in Louisville.
Although there are native praying mantis species in the U.S., Cincinnati Border Protection said that some foreign species are illegally traded as pets.
Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said, “Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that impacts a variety of species throughout the world. In this case, mantis eggs were illegally smuggled and hidden in a box of toys. Fortunately, our partners at USDA APHIS apprehended the package and worked closely with our Wildlife Inspectors to seize the shipment.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulates importing of live insects, requiring special permits and requirements to bring live insects into the country.