Among the things that the worm-like larvae have going for them, they don't emit methane. Also, they are prolific. Depending on the species, females release up to 1,500 eggs over a lifetime. Larvae develop quickly and they convert their food into protein efficiently, at a similar rate to chicken but better than pigs and cattle.
Farms do need to use energy to heat mealworms when ambient temperatures drop. But details like those could likely be improved with more research, according to the paper.
The demand for food from animals is expected to rise by as much as 80 percent by 2050. Mealworms and other insects may be part of the solution.
"Slowing down the expansion of agricultural land is a critical step towards sustainable agriculture," the biologists wrote. "The increasing world population will therefore need to be fed using the same area of land that is available now. Mealworms require only 43 percent of the amount of land used for the production of one kilogram of edible animal protein as milk, and only 10 percent of the land used for production of beef."
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