Caterpillars: Possible Enviromental Savior?

About a week or so ago I stumbled upon an article that mentioned a recently discovered caterpillar with the ability to digest plastic. I immediately stopped scrolling and took note IMG_6734of the article. In the article they mention how this ability of the caterpillar to digest plastic was discovered accidentally when biologist and part time beekeeper Federica Bertocchini collected them in plastic bag to get rid of them as she viewed them as pests to her beehives. But she later found the plastic bag full of holes and that all the caterpillars had escaped (Guarino, 2017). It was found that the caterpillars or bacteria inside them is capable of actually breaking down the polyethylene plastic, not just chewing it in to bits. After this discovery, this caterpillar previously viewed as insignificant and a pest to these scientists became exponentially more important. This new information completely changed their awareness and view point on this caterpillar. As Benet would say the thing power of this caterpillar radically changed for these scientists and thcate rest of the world which struggling to deal with increasing amounts of practically un-degradable plastic pilling up.  This previously unassuming insect viewed as a pest is now vibrant matter. Nothing about the caterpillar itself has changed, but these scientists have changed their perspective due to this discovery. This speaks to Jane Bennet’s point that everything is vibrant matter or has the potential to be vibrant matter. It just takes at least one person to notice it or change their viewpoint.


Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter a political ecology of things. Durham: Duke University Press.

Guarino, B. (2017, April 24). These pesky caterpillars seem to digest plastic bags. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from


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