Scientists have discovered that waxworms can eat and break down one of the most common plastics (polyethylene) into organic compounds. Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths. They are medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped feet and small, black or brown heads. In the wild, they live as nest parasites in bee colonies and eat cocoons, pollen, and shed skins of bees. They also eat and chew through beeswax, thus receiving the name waxworms. Beekeepers consider waxworms to be pests. The wax moths will not attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax used by the bees to build their honeycombs. Two species of the waxworm, Galleria mellonella and Plodia interpunctella , have both been observed in a laboratory setting eating and digesting polyethylene plastic. Waxworm The waxworms can digest polyethylene plastic films into ethylene glycol, a compound which biodegrades rapidly. This unusual ability to process matter typically thought of as non-edible may originate with the waxworm’s ability to process beeswax. Secluded from the guts of Plodia interpunctella wax worms, there are two strains of bacteria, Enterobacter asburiae , and Bacillus sp . Scientists have discovered these two different strains of bacteria are capable of decomposing polyethylene. Over 12 […]

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