I love bugs, no doubt. But, I too appreciate mosquitoes only as frog food and prefer the house flies to be less in the house. But we need them; to feed other creatures, for pollination (yes, only the female mosquitoes suck your blood!), decompose dead plants and animals and, it turns out, to clean up poop.
We have a waste issue on this planet: we produce too much waste, both trash and feces. Millions of pounds of animal poop are produced every year, creating a huge pollution problem (check out the meatrix for an entertaining way to learn about issues with our high meat consumption). While there are worthwhile campaigns to increase vegetarianism and reduce the amount of meat people eat, I don’t foresee all of humanity switching to veg-only in the near future. Thus, we need a way to deal with all the sh*t. A new study by Helena Cickova and colleagues looks to common house flies to rescue us from our poop problem.
According to the article, a common way to deal with pig manure from concentrated pig farms is to dump it in lagoons to digest it and then apply it to farms and forest areas surrounding the farms. While this method makes use of the waste as fertilizer, it also releases pathogens and excess nitrogen into the environment- polluting air and water for us and wildlife. So, how do we get rid of this crap?!? What eats crap? Flies!
Knowing that house flies prefer to lay their eggs in poop (their babies eat it up!) and that thousands of flies can be born in a short time, the researchers tested house flies as a method to reduce animal waste. They found that rearing house flies in waste in biodegradation facilities could reduce the waste by up to 82%! That makes a lot less sh*t to deal with. The flies reduce the mass as well as the amount of nitrogen in the poop- making safer, less polluting fertilizer for crops!
Next time you feel like fly swatting- remember that they are keeping our environment clean and supporting our meat habit as well as cleanly fertilizing our veggie crops!