Mysterious underwater insect uses microplastics to build protective microstructures itself

Revealed: Caddis flies use plastic waste from their environment to build shells, but the new protective layer makes it easier for predators to attack mysterious underwater insects

  • Caddis flies are small insects that live on riverbeds and pond bottoms
  • Scientists have discovered that they built narrow shells with plastic waste
  • Plastic shells were weaker than they would otherwise have been constructed with sand

As microplastics continue to fill the world’s oceans and rivers, a mysterious but ingenious insect uses pollutants to build shelters.

A new study from the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany has revealed how caddy flies are using the growing volume of microplastics in their environment as building material.

Caddis flies are tiny insects that generally live in river beds, ponds or streams, and build artificial shells around their bodies by placing particles of sand in complex silk webs that they spin.

Small aquatic insects called caddy flies have been observed building long artificial shells using microplastics collected from river beds.

Small aquatic insects called caddy flies have been observed building long artificial shells using microplastics collected from river beds.

According to the researchers, caddy flies will easily replace microplastic particles with sand granules to create these long protective shells, to which they will be added in segments as they mature.

While this may seem like a smart adaptation, the team discovered that the caddy fly structures made with microplastics are actually weaker than those made with sand particles.

These weaker shells are easier for predators to pierce and fall apart more easily when changes in water currents or large ripples sweep the environment.

According to the team, this was probably due to the fact that the plastic particles are lighter and softer than the sand particles, which makes them more sensitive to external manipulation.

Microplastics also expose caddy flies to toxic chemicals because they suck fresh water through their shells as part of their breathing process.

Caddis flies generally build these shells with small but hard sand particles and a sticky silk strap which is much more stable than microplastic shells

Caddis flies generally build these shells with small but hard sand particles and a sticky silk strap which is much more stable than microplastic shells

Caddis flies generally build these shells with small but hard sand particles and a sticky silk strap which is much more stable than microplastic shells

Caddis flies are an important part of river ecosystems, helping to prevent river beds from invading grasses, while providing a source of food for other animals, such as bats, spiders and frogs.

Caddis flies are an important part of river ecosystems, helping to prevent river beds from invading grasses, while providing a source of food for other animals, such as bats, spiders and frogs.

Caddis flies are an important part of river ecosystems, helping to prevent river beds from invading grasses, while providing a source of food for other animals, such as bats, spiders and frogs.

“ They create a flow of water inside the housing so that water passes through their gills, ” said Sonja Ehlers of the University of Koblenz-Landau. Wired.

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“And so if there is plastic incorporated, then of course, these leachate could also reach the gills and cause harm.”

Although caddy flies are small, they are not insignificant. They play an important role in river ecosystems by feeding on plants and grasses on river beds, preventing them from becoming overgrown.

They are also important prey for a number of other animals, including bats, frogs and spiders, which could be exposed to toxic plastics after eating caddy flies.

The researchers believed that the plastic shells were partly because the micriplastic particles are lighter and more flexible than the sand particles, making them easier to separate and stretch in streams of water, tearing holes in the underlying silk that holds them together

The researchers believed that the plastic shells were partly because the micriplastic particles are lighter and more flexible than the sand particles, making them easier to separate and stretch in streams of water, tearing holes in the underlying silk that holds them together

The researchers believed that the plastic shells were partly because the micriplastic particles are lighter and more flexible than the sand particles, making them easier to separate and stretch in streams of water, tearing holes in the underlying silk that holds them together

Caddis flies continue to add segments to their shells as they grow from larvae to mature insects, which microplastics make easier to see with different colored plastic particles

Caddis flies continue to add segments to their shells as they grow from larvae to mature insects, which microplastics make easier to see with different colored plastic particles

Caddis flies continue to add segments to their shells as they grow from larvae to mature insects, which microplastics make easier to see with different colored plastic particles

Microplastics have become a growing environmental concern as more plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans and rivers each year.

A recent study found that there are nearly 2 million microplastic debris per 10 square feet of ocean in the world.

Scientists have also discovered microplastics in Antarctic sea ice for the first time, giving an indication of the distance traveled by plastic waste in the Western world after disposal.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER RESEARCH NECESSARY TO ASSESS THE SPREAD AND IMPACT OF MICROPLASTICS?

The 2019 World Health Organization report “ Microplastics in Drinking Water ” described many areas of future research that could shed light on how widespread the problem of microplastic pollution is, how it can have a impact on human health and what can be done to prevent these particles from entering our water supply.

What is the extent of microplastics?

The following research would clarify the presence of microplastics in drinking water and freshwater sources:

  • More data are needed on the presence of microplastics in drinking water to properly assess human exposure to drinking water.
  • Studies on the presence of microplastics should use methods of guaranteed quality to determine the number, shapes, sizes and composition of the particles found. They should determine whether microplastics originate from the freshwater environment or from the extraction, treatment, distribution or bottling of drinking water. Initially, this research should focus on drinking water considered to be the most at risk of particulate contamination.
  • Drinking water studies would usefully be complemented by better freshwater data that would allow quantification of freshwater inputs and identify the main sources. This may require the development of reliable methods for tracking origins and identifying sources.
  • A set of standard methods is required for the sampling and analysis of microplastics in drinking and fresh water.
  • There is a significant knowledge deficit in the understanding of nanoplastics in the aquatic environment. A first step to fill this gap consists in developing standard methods of sampling and analysis of nanoplastics.
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What are the health implications of microplastics?

Although water treatment can be effective in removing particles, data specific to microplastics are limited. To support options for human health risk assessment and management, the following water treatment gaps need to be filled:

  • More research is needed to understand the fate of microplastics in different wastewater and drinking water treatment processes (such as clarification and oxidation processes) under different operational circumstances, including optimal and under-functioning optimal and the influence of particle size, shape and chemical composition on removal efficiency.
  • There is a need to better understand the composition of particles before and after water treatment, including in distribution systems. The role of microplastic degradation and abrasion in water treatment systems, as well as the microplastic contribution of the processes themselves must be taken into account.
  • More knowledge is needed to understand the presence and removal of nanoplastic particles in water and wastewater treatment processes once standard methods for nanoplastics are available.
  • There is a need to better understand the relationships between turbidity (and the number of particles) and microplastic concentrations throughout the treatment process.
  • Research is needed to understand the importance of the potential return of microplastics to the environment from sludge and other treatment waste streams.

To better understand the biofilms associated with microplastics and their meaning, the following research could be carried out:

  • Other studies could be conducted on the factors that influence the composition and potential specificity of biofilms associated with microplastics.
  • Studies could also consider the factors influencing the formation of biofilms on plastic surfaces, including microplastics, and how these factors vary for different plastics, and which organisms most often bind to plastic surfaces in plastic systems. ‘pure water.
  • Research could be carried out to better understand the capacity of microplastics to transport pathogenic bacteria over longer distances downstream, the rate of degradation in freshwater systems and the relative abundance and transportability of microplastics compared to to other particles.
  • Research could consider the risk of horizontal transfer of antimicrobial resistance genes into plastisphere microorganisms compared to other biofilms, such as those found in WWTPs.
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Can water treatment prevent microplastics from entering our water supply?

Although water treatment can be effective in removing particles, data specific to microplastics are limited. To support options for human health risk assessment and management, the following water treatment gaps need to be filled:

  • More research is needed to understand the fate of microplastics in different wastewater and drinking water treatment processes (such as clarification and oxidation processes) under different operational circumstances, including optimal and under-functioning optimal and the influence of the size, shape and chemical composition of the particles on elimination efficiency.
  • There is a need to better understand the composition of particles before and after water treatment, including in distribution systems. The role of microplastic degradation and abrasion in water treatment systems, as well as the microplastic contribution of the processes themselves must be taken into account.
  • More knowledge is needed to understand the presence and removal of nanoplastic particles in water and wastewater treatment processes once standard methods for nanoplastics are available.
  • There is a need to better understand the relationships between turbidity (and the number of particles) and microplastic concentrations throughout the treatment process.
  • Research is needed to understand the importance of the potential return of microplastics to the environment from sludge and other treatment waste streams.

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