One man’s trash is another man’s, or worm’s, treasure. Research from Stanford shows that darkling beetle larvae, (mealworms) can and will gobble a diet of polystyrene (Styrofoam) or plastic waste.
Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering raised a hundred mealworms from birth strictly on styrofoam which the creatures can digest thanks to a type of bacteria in their gut. Each worm ate about a few dozen milligrams every day, converting about half to carbon dioxide and leaving half behind as non-toxic waste. After meals, the scientists fed them fermented fruit cake to cleanse their tiny palates.
Researchers encouraged their new eating habits by slowly substituting Styrofoam bits instead of their normal diet of shit. For a lot of worms, this was a step up. Researchers discovered the worms to be 75% happier with this diet.
However 95% of the mealworms surveyed opted for the ‘pizza’ study in the next lab where they gained an average of 2 pounds a month which, for a mealworm, makes them look like a snake which has consumed a cow.
The worms seem to suffer no ill effects from eating plastic all day as they were unaware of even a basic food pyramid. They were as healthy as a control group that ate bran. BRAN!!! Think about that when cereal costs rise.
How to introduce the concept to the average person? Amazon Prime will include a packet of mealworms each time they ship something fragile in packing ‘peanuts’. Don’t throw the box filled with ‘peanuts’ away, just release the mealworms from their plastic bags, and as they gasp for fresh air, throw them into the box, yelling ‘soups on!’ and watch them do their thing.