An encounter with a live scorpion at Auckland airport should serve as a reminder for arriving international passengers to thoroughly clean camping gear, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
An MPI biosecurity inspector recently found the 5cm scorpion inside a tent carried by an air passenger arriving from Mexico.
“It wasn’t moving much, but it was clearly alive and capable of inflicting a sting,” says Craig Hughes, MPI’s Northern Border Clearance Manager, Passengers and Mail.
“The passenger was clearly shocked and repeatedly asked our inspector whether there were any more scorpions in the tent. After further inspection, we were able to confirm there wasn’t.”
He says it is rare for biosecurity staff to find scorpions, but warns it is very easy for dangerous pests to crawl inside camping equipment.
“We keep an eye out for used camping items, but passengers can do their bit for New Zealand’s biosecurity by cleaning their gear before they jump on a plane to visit or return home to New Zealand.
“An established scorpion population in New Zealand is the last thing the tourism industry and the public in general want to see here.”
The scorpion has since been destroyed.
Photo of scorpion available on request.
NB. This interception was made by the Ministry for Primary Industries, not NZ Customs.