The UK Border Force has revealed that a 22-year-old male travelling from Burkina Faso via Istanbul was stopped at Gatwick’s South Terminal.
A total of tens of thousands of dried caterpillars weighing 94 kilograms (207lbs) were found shrink-wrapped and packed into four hessian bags.
The discovery is believed to be among the largest of its kind at Gatwick Airport and the insects were seized as they breached restrictions on the import of products of animal origin.
The man claimed the insects were for personal consumption and intended as food, however he was warned about the restrictions and the find is to now be destroyed.
Ingrid Smith, from the Border Force, said: “This was an unusual seizure but the vigilance of our officers has stopped these dried insects from entering the UK, and possibly posing a risk to our food chain.
“I would warn travellers not to attempt to bring any products of animal origin into the UK without a permit, as they may not have been inspected to appropriate standards and may contain diseases.”