We bet you didn’t know this, but waxworms can quickly and easily gnaw through plastic. Their physiology allows them to digest plastic.
In the same way that they may dissolve beeswax, they can also dissolve various types of plastic.
Millions of metric tons of plastic are manufactured annually all over the globe. Much of this plastic is not being recycled and instead contributes to environmental degradation.
A wax worm’s diet can include plastic bags. Could these larvae be the key to saving the planet? What are the uses of the Waxworms? Keep reading to find out!
How Do I Describe the Waxworms?
Wax moths, sometimes known as snout moths, have caterpillars called waxworms.
The smaller wax moth (Achroia grisella) and the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) are two closely related species that are produced commercially.
They are classified as snout moths, namely the Galleriinae subfamily and the Galleriini tribe. The Indian mealmoth (Plodia interpunctella) is another species whose larvae bear the same name, but its larvae are not available for commercial sale.
Although Aphomia sociella, another moth in the family Galleriinae that also produces waxworms but is not commercially cultivated, is often used as a synonym for “bee moths” when discussing this topic, the term is more commonly applied to adult moths.
Waxworms are little, dark-eyed caterpillars that are about the colour of a medium white crayon.
The term comes from their natural habitat as nest parasites in bee colonies, where they feed on bee cocoons, pollen, and dead bee skins. Beekeepers view waxworms as a nuisance.
Greater wax moths, or Galleria mellonella, don’t bother bees directly, but they devour the wax they use to make honeycomb.
In order to mature into adults, the larvae need access to protein-rich brood cocoons, which can be found in old brood comb or brood cell cleanings.
The destruction of the comb will result in the loss of stored honey, the possible death of bee larvae, and the possible spread of honey bee diseases.
Read also: Mealworms: Food for Your Exotic Pet
How Can Wax Worms Be Cared For?
Wax worms require a chilly environment, between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Because they hibernate in the cool weather, wax worms can live for weeks at a time.
The refrigerator is perhaps too cold of a place to keep wax worms. Keep the worms in the refrigerator door if you must use the fridge.
You may be able to keep your wax worms alive by keeping them near the entryway, where it is slightly warmer. Wax worms can be kept safely and securely in a wine cooler.
These worms require a dry environment to thrive. Bedding that feels damp should be changed out for dry sheets immediately.
What Do Wax Worms Eat?
Wax worms consume nectar, wax, cocoons, and dead bees. I was wondering, what do captive wax worms eat? Wax worms kept in captivity can be fed honey, bran, and cereal.
Wax worms eat the wax used by bees to construct honeycombs in the wild. Wax worms can’t mature into adults without the protein in the brood comb.
Proteins extracted from the brood comb or brood cell cleanings aid in the full maturation of the larvae.
A wax worm kept in captivity may go without food for extended periods of time. A cool environment extends the time they can go without food.
What Do Wax Worms Drink?
Water is unnecessary for wax worms. They get lots of fluids from the honey that makes up their diet. If you keep your wax chambers in a cool place, they won’t get hungry for days.
Read also: Maggot Like Worms In House | How To Get Rid
How Can a Wax Worm Be Fed?
Feeding wax worms is unnecessary. They save food for later use when they’re hungry. Your wax worms won’t get hungry as long as you provide them with the proper diet in their cage.
It’s recommended to use baby cereals. Honey should be added after selecting a cereal to provide a moist end product. To further increase the moisture level, add more liquid glycerin.
The mixture should be dry enough to form a ball but sticky enough to hold its shape. Mix in some vitamin powder and some calcium, about the same quantity of each. Supplement use should be minimized wherever possible.
The liquid glycerin will slow down the drying process and keep the food edible for longer. This honey-based diet blend contains all the moisture and nutrition your wax worms require.
Where Does the Waxworm Live?
Wax worms can be kept in the packaging they are sent in indefinitely. If you do decide to move them, you’ll need a plastic tub with a tight-fitting lid.
Keep the container sealed at all times to prevent the wax worms from developing into wax moths. If you let the moths loose indoors, they may invade your home in large numbers.
You should pierce the container with tiny holes to allow airflow. A window made of mesh and some hot glue would also work. Due to their need for dry conditions, wax worms necessitate enough ventilation.
What are the Uses of the Waxworm?
1. Can One Use Wax Worms For Fishing?
Anglers can either buy waxworms from a store or produce their own. “waxies” is a common name for the larvae among anglers and fishing tackle stores.
Fishing in shallower waters is possible by using a lighter weight and using them to catch panfish, green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), and other members of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae).
The masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou), the white-spotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis), and the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are all fish caught with these methods.
Waxworms are a popular bait for catching trout and are often given by commercial vendors. In Japan, fishermen frequently use waxworms as bait.
Trout are drawn to the area when anglers toss handfuls of this bait into the “swim” they intend to fish.
The biggest or most visually appealing waxworms are then placed on the hook in the hopes that they will attract fish.
2. Can Waxworms Be Used as a Food Source?
In captivity, waxworms are a staple meal for many insectivorous animals and plants.
As a result of their high-fat content, ease of breeding, and capacity to survive for weeks at low temperatures, these larvae are produced extensively for use as food for humans, as well as live food for terrarium pets, and some pet birds.
Since they are less nutritious than, say, crickets or mealworms, they are better served as a treat than as a main course.
Captive animals, especially those with a slow metabolism like reptiles, can become overweight if they are fed waxworms on a regular basis due to their high fat and food energy (caloric) density.
Reptiles like bearded dragons (genus Pogona), neon tree dragons (genus Japalura), geckos, brown anoles (genus Anolis sagrei), turtles like the three-toed box turtle (genus Terrapene) and chameleons are the most common recipients of these foods.
Amphibians like Ceratophrys frogs, newts like Strauch’s spotted newt (Neurergus strauchii), and salamanders like axolotls can eat them, too.
Waxworms are enjoyed by many animals, including birds and small mammals like the tamed hedgehog and the greater honeyguide.
Fish, such as bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus), are often fed in the wild, and they can be used as food for predatory insects bred in terraria, such as assassin bugs in the genus Platymeris.
Waxworms of the species Galleria mellonella and Plodia interpunctella have been found to consume and break down polypropylene.
Waxworms break down polyethylene film into fast biodegradable ethylene glycol.
The waxworm’s gut microorganisms, which are crucial in the biodegradation process, may be the basis of this extraordinary capacity to digest stuff traditionally thought of as non-edible.
Laboratory testing has demonstrated that two bacterial strains, Enterobacter asburiae and Bacillus sp., obtained from the digestive systems of Plodia interpunctella waxworms, may break down polyethylene.
After 28 days of bacterial incubation on polyethylene films, the films became less hydrophobic in the test.
Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy also revealed surface degradation to the films in the form of pits and cavities (0.3-0.4 m in depth).