CINCINNATI — Agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection found praying mantis egg cases hidden in the padding of a toy character at the Cincinnati Port of Entry on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The toy was part of a shipment of incoming freight from Barcelona, Spain.
Mantis smuggling is on the rise, according to the news release from the CBP, citing other instances of egg smuggling, including earlier this year in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Louisville, Kentucky.
“Our officers and specialists are dedicated to protecting America and our agricultural and natural resources,” said Cincinnati supervisory agriculture specialist Barbara Hassan. “They are trained to locate and identify anything that might threaten those valuable and beloved sectors of our economy and our national assets. They also work closely with other agencies to protect illegally trafficked and threatened or endangered species.”
Some species of mantis occur naturally in the United States, but some species are traded illegally as pets.
Legal importers of foreign insects are required to obtain licenses to do so.