The worm is the larva of an insect called The Large Moth of the Wax and represents a potentially high pest that affects the bee hives in Europe.
The recent discovery occurred by mistake when researcher Federica Bertocchini removed the larvae from a beehive and stored them temporarily in shopping bags.
Bertocchini, a scientist at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in Cantabria, Spain, has begun a new experiment with Paolo Bombelli and Christopher Howe of Cambridge University’s Department of Biochemistry, after observing that the bags had holes.
About 100 worms were exposed on a plastic bag and after only 40 minutes holes appeared, and after only 12 hours there was a reduction of 92 mg of plastic mass.
“This breakthrough could be an important tool to get rid of polyethylene bags waste and ocean waste areas,” Bombelli said.
Worldwide, about one trillion plastic bags are used every year.
These caterpillars eat plastic and also modify its chemical composition.
Now they are trying to isolate the enzyme responsible for destroying the plastic.