World’s largest moth found in US for first time, officials say
BELLVUE, Wash. (KPTV/Gray News) - Officials in Washington state are urging the public to keep an eye out for moths following the discovery of one of the largest moths in the world earlier this year.
KPTV reports a University of Washington professor found the moth, later identified as an Atlas moth, outside his garage in Bellevue on July 7.
Officials said that an Atlas moth’s wingspan could reach about 10 inches, making it the biggest known moth in the world.
According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, entomologists believe it to be the first official finding of the pest in the U.S.
“These are the kinds of insects that people bring their phones out and take pictures of, even if they aren’t looking for bugs,” said Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist at the department. “These are normally a tropical moth. We are not sure it could survive here.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Atlas moth is a federally quarantined pest. Without permission from the USDA, collecting, housing or selling the moth is prohibited.
“The USDA is gathering available scientific and technical information about the moth and will provide response recommendations,” Spichiger said. “In the meantime, we hope residents will help us learn if this was a one-off escapee or if there is a population in the area.”
Officials said the moth does not represent a hazard to the public’s health.
The department urges anyone who spots an Atlas moth in Washington to send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and include a location.
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