Mosquitoes are eating plastic. Why that’s a big problem.

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito is photographed in a laboratory of control of epidemiological vectors in San Salvador, on January 27, 2016.

Marvin Recinos | AFP | Getty Images

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito is photographed in a laboratory of control of epidemiological vectors in San Salvador, on January 27, 2016.

Young mosquitoes who eat even small pieces of plastic could be contaminating other insects and mammals, according to new research.

Authors of a paper – published in The Royal Society journal Biology Letters on Wednesday – found that when a mosquito larva eats microplastic, that plastic can remain in the insect’s body into adulthood. So, the microplastic could then be transferred to whatever might eat that mosquito, including birds.

The U.K. researchers conducted their study in a lab, but they say it’s not a stretch to think that plastic could move up the food chain in this way.

“The implication is that you can have plastics at the bottom of the pond that are now going up into the air and being eaten by spiders and bats and animals that normally wouldn’t have access to that plastic,” author Amanda Callaghan at England’s University of Reading told the Independent.

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