The mealworms are able to do this due to their gut bacteria (Exiguobacterium sp. strain YT2) that actually breaks down the polystyrene. The Stanford study uses a common mealworm (the larvae of Tenebrio molitor Linnaeus) – we are using this same mealworm, but in addition to that we are also using what’s known as a “superworm” (the larvae of Zophobas morio), a type of darkling beetle, that has a lifespan of 3 to 15 years.
The superworm seems to be more aggressive, larger, more sturdy, and eats a lot more material. It also has the ability to live for up to a year in the larval stage just by keeping them all in constant contact of each other’s bodies. The other mealworm has a very short cycle.