If I had a 16-inch pizza at my disposal, letting maggots get to it would be the last thing I’d do. But this pizza was actually intended to be devoured by larva, and they seemed all too happy to take on the job.
I think we’ve all experienced one occasion or another when a little creature gets hold of some human food.
Outdoor eating areas are often home to some hopeful flies who land on abandoned dishes and rub their legs together with the satisfaction of not being swatted away, while Tom and Jerry taught us all we need to know about how ants work together to steal food.
It’s rare, however, to see these tiny creatures completely finish off a meal right in front of your eyes. You’ve probably never even wondered before what it might look like, but now the opportunity is here you probably won’t be able to look away.
The video comes as part of a study which investigated how black soldier fly larva devour food at such fast rates. The research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, explains the larva often outcompete other scavengers for food.
Once the maggots have had their fill of food, it’s possible they could be used as a high-protein food source for animals such as chickens, fish, and other livestock, which humans can then eat.
As maggots can feed on human waste, the process could create a more sustainable food system.
To determine the creatures’ quick and efficient eating technique, the researchers used time-lapse videography and particle image velocimetry, monitoring the maggots from the top and the bottom to analyse their motion.
Check out how the creatures demolish the big pizza in just two hours:
The research showed that individually, the larva eat in five minute bursts and are near their food source for 44 per cent of the time. As they hang around near the food when they’re not eating, roadblocks form, reducing the rate food is consumed.
To make sure each of the bugs get their fill, they’ve developed a system in which they push other maggots out of the way. The result is a ‘fountain of larva’.
The team explain:
To overcome these limitations, larvae push each other away from the food source, resulting in the formation of a fountain of larvae. Larvae crawl towards the food from below, feed and then are expelled on the top layer.
This self-propagating flow pushes away potential roadblocks, thereby increasing eating rate.
The findings could help companies recycle food waste into a useable food source for livestock.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.