Plastic eating insects – Shrirang M.

 

Some insect pests are adopted to digest plastic

From many years, Environmental Biologists are working on plastic degrading bacteria, but the results were not as satisfactory as expected, hence, these people proposed biodegradable plastic. But there are some insect pest those who are found to be digesting the plastic. These insects does not eat platic in natural habitat. But when these insects are reared in laboratory for various studies, their behavior changes. These insects are nothing but the pest called as Spodoptera L and Helicowarpa. These two species of insects can consume plastic along with normal diet in their third and fourth instar. There are many possibilities behind its consumption of plastic, like lack of availability of diet, morphological changes and many more. But if these insects could digest the normal plastic, then it would be an revolution in the field of Biodegradation. It may have variety of applications in environmental monitoring and muncipal solid waste management.

Though the exact reason behind this phenomenon is yet to be discovered, but these results have opened horizon for many upcoming technologies and ideas. There are some researchers who can isolate the plastic degrading enzymes from these insects and use them in degradation reaction, but it might be an costly apprach. Instead of doing that if these insects are used naturally, then it will be affordable alternative and sustainable also. There were some references of termites on internet few days ago, which mentioned the similar type of eating of plastic sheets by some wild termite species. Though the detailed information was not mentioned in it. But these evidences may be useful for studying invitro insect behavior properly and commercialization of these aspects is Biotechnology in this concept.

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