Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.
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For years the U.N. has been begging the world to embrace insects as a form of protein. The problem? Aside from the gross-out factor, they can be hard to catch, and when people do find a colony they rarely think to only take as much as the insects can produce, ensuring even those trying to take advantage of the protein we are literally surrounded by, can’t. The solution? An easy and sustainable insect farm!
Now, having scoured the insect farm and algae markets, many designs either are too costly to see widespread use in third world countries(algae), or simply don’t produce enough food for the space they take up(flies).
An overlooked source of protein, carbs and amino acids, aphids, or plant lice, are a potentially unparalleled food source. It was once said that if the offspring of ONE female aphid survive the summer, there would be enough aphids to stand in military formation circumferencing the planet several times. That’s right, it’s whatever million comes after quadrillion. Now, the beautiful part is that they not only feed on plants, but there is a type of aphid for literally almost every plant on earth. Currently, the only breed available to order online are pea aphids, which eat a variety of plants, most of which are very quick germinators and reach maturity in at most two months.
Imagine we could create a sustainable ecosystem, growing our quadrillion aphids, requiring only sunlight water, and backup plants. Simply knock off some aphids when your rice needs some protein, because the little green guys reach maturity in a week, producing about 50 to 100 eggs when they do, and for parts of the year they REPRODUCE ASEXUALLY, making the management of their population even easier. Additionally, there is an aphid breed for just about every plant in the world meaning we could pick the best pair for the production of organic matter.
Now, just as an example, imagine if we could get ahold of some bamboo aphids, which are commonplace in parts of the world, a pest, and remember that bamboo grows about three feet a day. Assuming that pair would be easily sustainable, think about the potential organic matter production.
What if we could create a sustainable food source that simply requires a temperate climate, sunlight and water, well, we could feed a lot of people. The distribution of seeds, plastic containers and the pests hardly even requires much infrastructure in-country to grow and distribute. On top of that, just think, protein that doesn’t require large tracts of land, which is a major obstacle in many starving countries.
P.S. If anyone lives in Asia, I will pay to get some bamboo aphids.
P.S.S In America, the allowable number of aphids in hops is 2,500 per 10 grams, so if you are grossed out, or worried about health issues, beer is basically aphid juice.
But so you aren’t just taking my word for it, according to backyardnature.net, “Each of the many aphid species has its own life cycle, but there are some features uniting nearly all of them. One feature most species share is that they are incredibly prolific. Wingless adult female aphids can produce 50 to 100 offspring. A newly born aphid becomes a reproducing adult within about a week and then can produce up to 5 offspring per day for up to 30 days! The French naturalist Reaumur during the late eighteenth century calculated that if all the descendants of a single aphid survived during the summer and were arranged into a French military formation, four abreast, their line would extend for 27,950 miles, which exceeds the circumference of the earth at the equator!”
As far as their safety being in question, according to health.yahoo.net, “if you home-brew beer, you might consider growing your own hops: The FDA legally allows 2,500 aphids for every 10 grams of hops.”
And if that’s not enough, heck, ants are even doing it. Here’s a BBC video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43id_NRajDo
The only previous attempts at farming aphids I could find online were to feed people’s pet frogs, the concepts they used could be easily scaled up, and all were simply using pea aphids and pea plants, which is far from the best possible combination, in my opinion.
What remains for us is to figure out how to create a sustainable ecosystem for them to thrive in, plants that quickly produce seeds will be integral as ideally we will choose a plant that either can survive under attack from the aphids for a prolonged period of time, about a month at least, or quickly produce seeds, allowing us to constantly renew their food source, the key here is maximum amount of organic matter produced. This is why bamboo was my example, though I have done no tests myself. There are numerous options, Wisconsin fast plants(fastplants.org) are an intriguing option, as they are genetically modified to reach maturity, (producing seeds) in thirty days, among the fastest rates on the planet. Basically the only thing to left to deduce is what plant do aphids eat that can keep up with their unbelievable reproduction rates. And remember, as they reproduce asexually much of the year, they are going to be constantly harvested, leaving a small breeding population which will quickly balloon in size will be no problem, and will allow us to harvest some of them for food every week, which is a spectacular rate.
Another strength of using aphids as opposed to other insects, is that many aphids only can eat their host plant, meaning that the chances for environmental contamination from foreign species can be completely avoided, which is a major drawback to using insects to fight world hunger.
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
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