One Hungry Thing: The Greater Wax Moth Caterpillar That Thrives On Plastic

Photo: Wayne Boo, USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Researchers at Brandon University have studied the Greater Wax Moth Caterpillar and found that it can live on a diet of polyethylene, the type of plastic used to make shopping bags.  Yes, you read that right!  Unlike many animals that are harmed by eating plastic (we are thinking of those tragic whale and bird pictures we all have etched in our brains), this caterpillar can eat plastic and they are actually better off!  Amazingly, the study showed that feeding the waxworms a 100% polyethylene diet increased the healthy microbes in their guts as compared to worms that were fed their normal diet or were starved. So the researchers dubbed them plastivores!  But there is one small problem with them — wax worms are predators for bees — not something we can afford right now.  Still, this is a promising discovery.

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