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Lab-Grown Larvae Could Help Save The Environment

DAVIS (CBS13) —  From waste to want, a new company in Davis is buzzing for breeding bugs.  They say it's the future of the agriculture industry.

They're taking waste created from farms around California and recycling it. Soon, their product could be found in your home.

The black soldier fly is turning into big business at UC Davis. Biomiltus is turning waste from the flies into oil for your car and protein for your pets.

When you enter the Biomilitus home on the UC Davis Campus, bring an open mind and leave your fly swatter at home.

"In the future, I think insects is one of the most sustainable food," Jesus Fernandez-Bayo, CTO of Biomiltus, said.

That's right. The folks behind the company say these bugs, which act similar to the common housefly, are our future and good for the environment as well. They're hoping to be the boost the bug business needs.

READ ALSO: UC Davis Graduate Students Converting Agricultural Waste Into Animal Feed

"There is a lot of agricultural waste produced in California. We want to take that waste and grow insects," Lydia Palma, CFO of Biomiltus said.

Here's how their company works: it starts with food waste, which some farms pay big money to get rid of, like tomatoes or wine. Give these bugs anything, even old pizza, and a feeding frenzy begins very quickly. They're able to tackle a full slice in minutes. Then the waste is gone and the larvae are big and fat.

When the larvae are fat and full, workers extract oil from them.

The flies are used at every stage, at the peak of a bug's life, and even in death, where they get ground into a protein powder. All turned into other products you could use such as machine lubricant oil for your car or sustainable animal feed, which local chickens tend to fight over and is much less expensive than corn or soy.

The brains behind this operation call it "upcycling."

"It's a way of using insects like we would use bees for honey. It's a positive way of using insects instead of just killing them," Trevor Fowles, CEO, said.

Their goal is to reduce greenhouse gas by finding this pesty but efficient way to get rid of waste.

"We're using insects to break down those wastes to turn into other products," Fowles said. "Upcycling a food source and turning it back into another food source."

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