February 10, 2014
Two species of bee are making their nests from waste polyurethane and polyethylene, according to researchers at Toronto's York University.
Megachile rotundata, which traditionally uses cut plant leaves, was found to be constructing nests from pieces of polyethylene plastic bags. Megachile campanulae, which uses plant and tree resins for its nests, was found to be employing waste polyurethane-based building sealants.
"Although not easily determined, novel uses of human-made materials might result in an adaptive advantage, leading to more widespread use after multiple successful occurrences in a given population," said the researchers in Ecosphere., a journal of the Ecological Society of America.
"Our understanding of how plastics spontaneous integrate into natural ecological processes will increase as more human-made material and products build up in both urban and non-urban landscapes," they wrote.