Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths, which belong to the family Pyralidae (snout moths). Two closely related species are commercially bred – the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella) and the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella). They belong to the tribe Galleriini in the snout moth subfamily Galleriinae. Another species whose larvae share that name is the Indian mealmoth (Plodia interpunctella), though this species is not available commercially.

The adult moths are sometimes called "bee moths", but, particularly in apiculture, this can also refer to Aphomia sociella, another Galleriinae moth which also produces waxworms, but is not commercially bred.

Waxworms are medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped feet and small, black or brown heads.

In the wild, they live as nest parasites in bee colonies and eat cocoons, pollen, and shed skins of bees, and chew through beeswax, thus the name. Beekeepers consider waxworms to be pests.[1] Galleria mellonella (the greater wax moths) will not attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax used by the bees to build their honeycomb. Their full development to adults requires access to used brood comb or brood cell cleanings—these contain protein essential for the larvae's development, in the form of brood cocoons. The destruction of the comb will spill or contaminate stored honey and may kill bee larvae or be the cause of the spreading of honey bee diseases.

When kept in captivity, they can go a long time without eating, particularly if kept at a cool temperature. Captive waxworms are generally raised on a mixture of cereal grain, bran, and honey.

Adult specimen of the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella)
Adult specimen of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella)
Wax worm, U, Maryland, side 2015-07-13-13.01.17 ZS PMax
G. mellonella larva

Waxworms as a food source

Waxworms are an ideal food for many insectivorous animals and plants.

These larvae are grown extensively for use as food for humans, as well as live food for terrarium pets and some pet birds, mostly due to their high fat content, their ease of breeding, and their ability to survive for weeks at low temperatures. Most commonly, they are used to feed reptiles such as bearded dragons (species in the genus Pogona), the neon tree dragon (Japalura splendida), geckos, brown anole (Anolis sagrei), turtles such as the three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis), and chameleons. They can also be fed to amphibians such as Ceratophrys frogs, newts such as the Strauch's spotted newt (Neurergus strauchii), and salamanders such as axolotls. Small mammals such as the domesticated hedgehog can also be fed with waxworms, while birds such as the greater honeyguide can also appreciate the food. They can also be used as food for captive predatory insects reared in terrarium, such as assassin bugs in the genus Platymeris, and are also occasionally used to feed certain kinds of fish in the wild, such as bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus).

Waxworms as bait

Waxworms may be store-bought or raised by anglers.[2] Anglers and fishing bait shops often refer to the larvae as "waxies". They are used for catching some varieties of panfish, members of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae), Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and can be used for shallow water fishing with the use of a lighter weight. They are also used for fishing some members of the Salmonidae family, Masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou), white-spotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Waxworms as an alternative to mammals in animal research

Waxworms can replace mammals in certain types of scientific experiments with animal testing, especially in studies examining the virulence mechanisms of bacterial and fungal pathogens.[3] Waxworms prove valuable in such studies because the innate immune system of insects is strikingly similar to that of mammals.[4] Waxworms survive well at human body temperature and are large enough in size to allow straightforward handling and accurate dosing. Additionally, the considerable cost savings when using waxworms instead of small mammals (usually mice, hamsters, or guinea pigs) allows testing throughout that is otherwise impossible. Using waxworms, it is now possible to screen large numbers of bacterial and fungal strains to identify genes involved in pathogenesis or large chemical libraries with the hope of identifying promising therapeutic compounds. The later studies have proved especially useful in identifying chemical compounds with favorable bioavailability.[5]

Biodegradation of plastic

Two species of waxworm, Galleria mellonella and Plodia interpunctella have both been observed eating and digesting polyethylene plastic. The waxworms metabolize polyethylene plastic films into ethylene glycol, a compound which biodegrades rapidly.[6] This unusual ability to digest matter classically thought of as non-edible may originate with the waxworm's ability to digest beeswax. Two strains of bacteria, Enterobacter asburiae and Bacillus sp, isolated from the guts of Plodia interpunctella waxworms, have been shown to decompose polyethylene in laboratory testing.[7][8] In a test with a 28-day incubation period of these two strains of bacteria on polyethylene films, the films' hydrophobicity decreased. In addition, damage to the films' surface with pits and cavities (0.3-0.4 μm in depth) was observed using scanning electron microscopy and atomic-force microscopy.

Placed in a polyethylene shopping bag, approximately 100 Galleria mellonella waxworms consumed almost 0.1 gram (0.0032 ounces) of the plastic over the course of 12 hours in laboratory conditions.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries. "Wax Moth - A Pest of Combs and Honey Bee Products". agriculture.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  2. ^ "Use for Waxworms". Retrieved 22 December 2014
  3. ^ Antunes, Luísa C. S.; Imperi, Francesco; Carattoli, Alessandra; Visca, Paolo (2011). Adler, Ben (ed.). "Deciphering the Multifactorial Nature of Acinetobacter baumannii Pathogenicity". PLoS ONE. 6 (8): e22674. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022674. PMC 3148234. PMID 21829642.
  4. ^ Kavanagh, Kevin; Reeves, Emer P. (2004). "Exploiting the potential of insects for in vivo pathogenicity testing of microbial pathogens". FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 28 (1): 101–12. doi:10.1016/j.femsre.2003.09.002. PMID 14975532.
  5. ^ Aperis, G; Burgwynfuchs, B; Anderson, C; Warner, J; Calderwood, S; Mylonakis, E (2007). "Galleria mellonella as a model host to study infection by the Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain". Microbes and Infection. 9 (6): 729–34. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2007.02.016. PMC 1974785. PMID 17400503.
  6. ^ "Could These Tiny Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Hold The Answer To Our Trash Problem? - Hydration Anywhere". hydrationanywhere.com. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  7. ^ Yang, Jun; Yang, Yu; Wu, Wei-Min; Zhao, Jiao; Jiang, Lei (2014-12-02). "Evidence of Polyethylene Biodegradation by Bacterial Strains from the Guts of Plastic-Eating Waxworms". Environmental Science & Technology. 48 (23): 13776–13784. doi:10.1021/es504038a. ISSN 0013-936X. PMID 25384056.
  8. ^ Nuwer, Rachel. "A Worm's Gut Could Help Dispose of Plastic Trash". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  9. ^ Bombelli, Paolo; Howe, Christopher J.; Bertocchini, Federica (2017-04-24). "Polyethylene bio-degradation by caterpillars of the wax moth Galleria mellonella". Current Biology. 27 (8): R292–R293. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.060. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 28441558.
American foulbrood

American foulbrood (AFB, Histolysis infectiosa perniciosa larvae apium, Pestis americana larvae apium), caused by the spore-forming bacteria Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae (formerly classified as Bacillus larvae), is a highly infectious bee disease. It is the most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases.

Animal testing

Animal testing, also known as animal experimentation, animal research and in vivo testing, is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek to control the variables that affect the behavior or biological system under study. This approach can be contrasted with field studies in which animals are observed in their natural environments or habitats. Experimental research with animals is usually conducted in universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, defense establishments and commercial facilities that provide animal-testing services to industry. The focus of animal testing varies on a continuum from pure research, focusing on developing fundamental knowledge of an organism, to applied research, which may focus on answering some question of great practical importance, such as finding a cure for a disease. Examples of applied research include testing disease treatments, breeding, defense research and toxicology, including cosmetics testing. In education, animal testing is sometimes a component of biology or psychology courses. The practice is regulated to varying degrees in different countries.

It is estimated that the annual use of vertebrate animals—from zebrafish to non-human primates—ranges from tens to more than 100 million. In the European Union, vertebrate species represent 93% of animals used in research, and 11.5 million animals were used there in 2011. By one estimate the number of mice and rats used in the United States alone in 2001 was 80 million. Mice, rats, fish, amphibians and reptiles together account for over 85% of research animals.Most animals are euthanized after being used in an experiment. Sources of laboratory animals vary between countries and species; most animals are purpose-bred, while a minority are caught in the wild or supplied by dealers who obtain them from auctions and pounds. Supporters of the use of animals in experiments, such as the British Royal Society, argue that virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way. The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the United States National Academy of Sciences has argued that animal research cannot be replaced by even sophisticated computer models, which are unable to deal with the extremely complex interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms and the environment. Animal rights organizations—such as PETA and BUAV—question the need for and legitimacy of animal testing, arguing that it is cruel and poorly regulated, that medical progress is actually held back by misleading animal models that cannot reliably predict effects in humans, that some of the tests are outdated, that the costs outweigh the benefits, or that animals have the intrinsic right not to be used or harmed in experimentation.


Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that uses honey bee products, including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom. Proponents of apitherapy make claims for its health benefits which are unsupported by evidence-based medicine.

Colony collapse disorder

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees. While such disappearances have occurred sporadically throughout the history of apiculture, and were known by various names (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease), the syndrome was renamed colony collapse disorder in late 2006 in conjunction with a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of western honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in North America. Most European countries observed a similar phenomenon since 1998, especially marked in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the UK, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, Switzerland and Germany; the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%. The phenomenon became more global when it touched some Asian and African countries too.Colony collapse disorder causes significant economic losses because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by western honey bees. According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worth of global crops with honey bee pollination was estimated at close to $200 billion in 2005. Shortages of bees in the US have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%.In the six years leading up to 2013, more than 10 million colonies were lost, often to CCD, nearly twice the normal rate of loss. In comparison, according to U.N. FAO data, the world's beehive stock rose from around 50 million in 1961 to around 83 million in 2014, which is about 1.3% average annual growth. Average annual growth has accelerated to 1.9% since 2009.

Several possible causes for CCD have been proposed, but no single proposal has gained widespread acceptance among the scientific community. Suggested causes include: infections with Varroa and Acarapis mites; malnutrition; various pathogens; genetic factors; immunodeficiencies; loss of habitat; changing beekeeping practices; or a combination of factors. A large amount of speculation has surrounded a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids as having caused CCD.

Honey producing colonies in the United States increased 4% to 2.8 million in 2018.

Deformed wing virus

Deformed wing virus (DWV) is an RNA virus, one of 22 known viruses affecting honey bees. While most commonly infecting the honey bee, Apis mellifera, it has also been documented in other bee species, like Bombus terrestris, thus, indicating it may have a wider host specificity than previously anticipated. The virus was first isolated from a sample of symptomatic honeybees from Japan in the early 1980s and is currently distributed worldwide. It is found also in pollen baskets and commercially reared bumblebees. Its main vector in A. mellifera is the Varroa mite. It is named after what is usually the most obvious deformity it induces in the development of a honeybee pupa, which is shrunken and deformed wings, but other developmental deformities are often present.

Flea circus

A flea circus is a circus sideshow attraction in which fleas are attached (or appear to be attached) to miniature carts and other items, and encouraged to perform circus acts within a small housing.

Galleria mellonella

Galleria mellonella, the greater wax moth or honeycomb moth, is a moth of the family Pyralidae. G. mellonella is found throughout the world. It is one of two species of wax moths, with the other being the lesser wax moth. G. mellonella eggs are laid in the spring, and they have four life stages. Males are able to generate ultrasonic sound pulses, which, along with pheromones, are used in mating. The larvae of G. mellonella are also often used as a model organism in research.

The greater wax moth is well known for its parasitization of honeybees and their hives. Because of the economic loss caused by this species, several control methods including heat treatment and chemical fumigants such as carbon dioxide have been used.

Kaiser's spotted newt

Kaiser's spotted newt (Neurergus kaiseri), also known as the Luristan newt or emperor spotted newt (not to be confused with Tylototriton shanjing), is a species of very colourful salamander in the family Salamandridae. It is endemic to the southern Zagros Mountains in Iran where it is known from just four streams. Populations of this newt have been declining and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated it as "vulnerable". A captive breeding programme has been established in several zoos.

King baboon spider

The king baboon spider, scientific name Pelinobius muticus, is a tarantula species native to East Africa. It is the only species in the genus Pelinobius. The king baboon spider can grow up to 20 cm in leg span. It is a slow-growing species. The spider is often rusty brown or orange in colour. As a burrowing species, the back legs are very thick and used for digging burrows. It is popular among tarantula collectors but is highly defensive and not suitable for beginners. They also have very strong venom (although none of the tarantulas are known to have a bite that is deadly to humans); a bite from a baby (1 cm body length) of this species caused sharp pain and the place of the bite remained itchy for five days.

List of domesticated animals

This page gives a list of domestic animals, also including a list of animals which are or may be currently undergoing the process of domestication and animals that have an extensive relationship with humans beyond simple predation. This includes species which are semi-domesticated, undomesticated but captive-bred on a commercial scale, or commonly wild-caught, at least occasionally captive-bred, and tameable. In order to be considered fully domesticated, most species have undergone significant genetic, behavioural and/or morphological changes from their wild ancestors; while others have been changed very little from their wild ancestors despite hundreds or thousands of years of potential selective breeding. A number of factors determine how quickly any changes may occur in a species, however, there isn't always a desire to improve a species from its wild form. Domestication is a gradual process, i.e., there is no precise moment in the history of a given species when it can be considered to have become fully domesticated.

Archaeozoology has identified three classes of animal domesticates:

commensals, adapted to a human niche (e.g., dogs, cats, guinea pigs)

prey animals sought for food (e.g., cows, sheep, pig, goats)

targeted animals for draft and nonfood resources (e.g., horse, camel, donkey).To sort the tables chronologically by date of domestication, refresh your browser window, as clicking the Date column heading will mix CE and BCE dates.


Moths comprise a group of insects related to butterflies, belonging to the order Lepidoptera. Most lepidopterans are moths, and there are thought to be approximately 160,000 species of moth, many of which have yet to be described. Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are also crepuscular and diurnal species.

Small hive beetle

The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is a beekeeping pest. It is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, but has spread to many other locations, including North America, Australia, and the Philippines.

The small hive beetle can be a destructive pest of honey bee colonies, causing damage to comb, stored honey, and pollen. If a beetle infestation is sufficiently heavy, they may cause bees to abandon their hive. Its presence can also be a marker in the diagnosis of colony collapse disorder for honey bees. The beetles can also be a pest of stored combs, and honey (in the comb) awaiting extraction. Beetle larvae may tunnel through combs of honey, feeding and defecating, causing discoloration and fermentation of the honey.

Takydromus tachydromoides

Takydromus tachydromoides, the Japanese grass lizard, is a wall lizard species of the genus Takydromus. It is found in Japan. Its Japanese name is 'kanahebi' (カナヘビ). 'Hebi' means 'snake' in Japanese, although this lizard is not a snake. There are three lizards found in the four main islands of Japan. The other two are the Japanese gekko (also, Schlegel's Japanese gekko, Gekko japonicus), and the Japanese five-lined skink (Eumeces latiscutatus, also Plestiodon latiscutatus; this skink shows five lines only as a juvenile).

Varroa destructor

Varroa destructor (Varroa mite) is an external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis.

The Varroa mite can only reproduce in a honey bee colony. It attaches to the body of the bee and weakens the bee by sucking fat bodies . They are a vector for at least 5 debilitating bee viruses including RNA viruses such as the deformed wing virus (DWV). A significant mite infestation will lead to the death of a honey bee colony, usually in the late autumn through early spring. The Varroa mite is the parasite with possibly the most pronounced economic impact on the beekeeping industry. Varroa is considered to be one of multiple stress factors contributing to the higher levels of bee losses around the world.


Waxy may refer to:

a substance related to wax

colloquially for a waxworm (particularly used by anglers)

Waxy (band), an American stoner rock band

Waxy (horse), a thoroughbred racehorse

WAXY (AM), a radio station (790 AM) licensed to serve South Miami, Florida, United States

WSFS (FM), a radio station (104.3 FM) licensed to serve Miramar, Florida, which held the call sign WAXY-FM from 2012 to 2015

of insects
in culture
Honey bee types and characteristics
Bee castes
Subspecies and breeds
Parasites and diseases
by countries


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