Boffins are examining a mysterious insect that was found alive in a pack of Wigan shop-bought bird food.
Chris Winstanley raised the alarm after opening the packet of dried mealworms he had purchased not so much because he was worried about contamination as because he feared he might be introducing an alien species into the UK.
Images of the critter, which had travelled all the way from China it seems, were sent firstly to Wigan wildlife and countryside development manager Graham Workman, but they had him stumped.
He in turn contacted the Animal and Plant Health Agency who advised Chris to send the bug, still alive if possible, to the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus.
The specimen has now been sent from Chris’s home in Aspull to the lab in York and he is awaiting news.
He said: “I found this very small (3cm long) beetle-like insect in a packet of dried mealworms that I had bought from Home Bargains in Newtown.
“The thing that made me a little worried was the fact it came straight out of the packet with other but larger beetles that were dead.
“This little insect was alive and very lively. It has large wings, twice the size of the insect itself when open, so if allowed to escape it could travel quite a way in a short time.
“I isolated it from the dried mealworms and took pictures.
“I would hate to think that I or other people, for that matter, were responsible for introducing an invasive beetle.
“We don’t know what werare introducing into our environment when we innocently open a packet of bird food from a foreign country.”
Home Bargains was contacted for a comment about the insect but did not reply.