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Insects Help Clean Up New York City

In a study that has been going on since 2012, Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt, a research associate and lead author of a paper on the work, examined how insects and other arthropods play a significant role in cleaning up New York City. Research demonstrated that the insects and arthropods on medians down the Broadway/West St. corridor alone consume more than 2,100 pounds of discarded junk food every year, reported PCT Online.

By placing measured amounts of junk food in cages (so bigger scavengers such as rats couldn’t get to it) around the city streets and parks, researchers were able to determine exactly how much food they were eating.

The study surprised the scientists with the results that arthropods in urban environments ate two to three times more junk food than those in parks. This is believed to be from one of the most common species in the urban areas, the pavement ants (Tetramorium species), being particularly efficient foragers. Since rats and pigeons are also competing for the same food source, the research showed that the arthropods are able to limit and control populations of rats and other pests due to less availability of food.