Giant bugs found in mail

May 15, 2008 6:48:44 PM PDT
Large insects, some measuring a half-foot in diameter and all considered harmful to agriculture in the U.S., were found in a package after postal workers thought they heard the parcel making noises.In all, 26 beetles were in the package that was originally sent to Mohnton, Pa., which is located near Reading.

The package was labeled as containing "toys, gifts and jellies," according to the U.S. Customs Service, but postal officials in Mohnton thought they heard something alive inside.

When the package was sent to Philadelphia, it was frozen by agriculture specialists. They X-rayed the package and found smaller containers holding the bugs inside.

Some of the 26 insects, Hercules, Rhinoceros and Goliath beetles of the family Scarabaeidae, measured 5- to 6-inches in diameter.

"The specimens were some of he largest of their kind, and some of the largest I've ever seen, averaging five to six inches in diameter," said John Plummer, CBP Agriculture Specialist in a press release. "They are highly destructive insect pests that can cause extensive damage to fruit and vegetable crops, trees, shrubs and turf grasses."

The package was shipped from Taiwan. Officials said some of the smaller containers inside the package were labeled with the symbols for male and female, and that might have been a sign that someone was intending to breed the beetles.

Inside each of the little containers was "beetle jelly" that officials say would have kept the bugs alive during shipment.

It is illegal to ship live beetles into the country without a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture officials say the beetles can be harmful to food and vegetable crops, trees and turf grasses. The intended recipient was allegedly a wildlife photographer who wanted to take pictures of the insects.