Cambridge University researchers have found that the larvae of the moth named Galleria Mellonella can munch on plastic and degrade it, just like their full-grown versions can eat beehive wax. Experiments show the insect can break down the chemical bonds of plastic in a similar way to digesting beeswax.
Plastic pollution is increasing every year, currently producing 80 million tonnes of the plastic polyethylene around the globe. Most of which are used for shopping bags & food packaging. But if not disposed properly, this plastic can take centuries to decompose. In this situation, this newly noticed caterpillar is almost like a wish being granted, as it can make holes in a plastic bag in less than an hour.
The discovery has been patented by Cambridge University biochemist Dr. Paulo Bombelli & his colleague Frederica Bertocchini of the Spanish National Research Council. Currently they are researching furthermore to identify the chemical process that is causing the natural degradation of the plastic. Experts think that this could be the breakthrough in terms of managing plastic waste in the environment through biodegrading. According to Dr. Bertocchini, if implemented, this process could be the solution towards saving the oceans, the rivers and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation. Although she warned that just because now there is a way of biodegrading plastic, doesn’t mean we can dump plastic waste anywhere we want.
Nature works in the most mysterious ways. For millions of years it has given us solutions for our problems and taught us to survive.
Could this be another of mother nature’s aids to save the environment? Let’s find out.