frigid north

Actually, this post applies to any region that has seasonal temperatures below that which support BSF mating. This encompasses the entire continental U.S. except for a few extreme southern areas.

Black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) are common in tropical and subtropical regions, but their range extends into many northern states of the continental U.S. You can easily operate a BSF bio-composting unit in northern states during the warm months, but you can also maintain the colony through the colder months with a little extra effort.

A black soldier fly colony generates its own heat

Maintaining a BSF unit in cold weather without heating it is possible because the churning action and digestion of the black soldier fly grubs creates heat as a byproduct. Under cold conditions keeping the colony at the optimal temperature range of 85° – 100°F (30°-38°C) is as simple as consistently feeding them and placing an insulating material directly on top of the pile. Simply remove the insulating material, add the food scraps, and then replace it. It’s important to feed the colony consistently in cold weather because without food the temperature will drop and the colony will become dormant. You can think of it like a diesel engine, if it gets cold then it’s hard to get it started again.

If the larvae are exposed to freezing temperatures they will die. Also, any insulation on top of the colony needs to have an air gap between it and the BioPod.

Maintaining a BSF colony during extended periods of sub-freezing weather will probably be a challenge for a novice, but it’s worth tying because at worst you’ll learn more about this fascinating creature. If you aren’t up to the challenge just yet then you can enjoy BSF culturing up to the point where the weather in your area makes it difficult and then resume in the spring. If you can store some or all of the compost through the winter it should make attracting the BSF easier in the spring.

Process more food scraps, harvest less larvae

The time it takes BSF larvae to mature increases in cold weather from the usual few weeks to a period of up to several months. I’ve maintained BSF larvae in the juvenile stage (light color, actively feeding) for five months through winter keeping the unit outdoors with some insulation. The same individual larvae will eat all winter which enables you to continue bio-composting without the need to replenish the colony with visiting females. However, since reproduction doesn’t happen at this time you must stop harvesting larvae if you wish to continue processing waste through the cold season.

In warm weather the colony has a tendency to overheat, so in cool weather the larvae are able to consume food scraps even more efficiently.

How adventurous are you?

I don’t recommend bringing the BSF unit into your living room, but why not try keeping it in the garage or a shed when the temperature drops? Sure, a few larvae might get out, but so what? The adult fly will just emerge from it’s pupae in the spring and then you’ll have the pleasure of gently capturing it and releasing it outdoors. They are harmless creatures after all. I don’t think a heated space would be the best choice though, because it might trick the larvae into developing too quickly. I would guess that 40° – 60°F (5°-15°C) is a good range to try testing this theory, and of course you would need an insulating disc of some sort to keep the colony warm. The degree of insulation would depend on the ambient temperature in the space.

I’m cursed with living in an area that rarely gets cold so if you try this experiment please let me know how it goes. I would love to post photos of your set up (if it works :) ).

Mike made a comment below reminding me of a presentation by ESR about BSF culturing in winter. Here is a link to that article: http://www.esrla.com/winter/frame.htm

solider

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52 thoughts on “Black soldier fly composting in the frigid north

  • August 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm
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    Wow, this is interesting information! (liked the picture caption that came with the post too :D) Is this heat-generating ‘feature’ something that applies to all flies or just Black Soldier Flies?

  • August 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm
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    Thanks!

    I’m not sure if other fly larvae create heat this way. It shouldn’t be difficult to find out though, because there has been a tremendous amount of research done with house flies. There has been a relatively small amount done with BSF, but I’m sure some of the research translates.

    I’m glad you like the photo. I took it during a cold snap in New Hampshire this last January while visiting friends.

  • August 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm
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    @Jerry: Firstly, you officially win the title of ‘fastest comment replying admin’ ever! I was clicking back onto the homepage to see what new posts I had missed reading and saw ‘2’ comments. I thought I had double-posted!

    Secondly, sorry to be a pain, but would it be possible to provide a ref link to the research about the temperatures quoted in the article please?

    Looking at the picture really makes me shiver already, haha :) I love panoramic shots! Maybe you could persuade your friend to do a mini BSF experiment?

  • August 18, 2008 at 11:06 pm
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    Don’t worry, most of my friends are “pains”. :) I’m just glad you’re taking an interest in BSF.

    I should have included links in the post to begin with and I’ll add them soon. Here’s one of the links I used (I need to find the other):

    http://www.esrla.com/brazil/frame.htm

    This presentation is a few years old but contains some great data. It was compiled by Dr. Olivier who developed the BioPod. If I got any numbers wrong please let me know, I was a little tired when I wrote this post. :) Also some if it is conjecture on my part, but I think that’s clear.

  • August 24, 2008 at 9:56 am
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    I’m interested in cultivating BSFL, for my chickens. I live in frigid Wisconsin, though. If I tried it, I would be keeping the colony in the chicken’s “room” in our hangar. Yes, we have an airplane hangar, it’s basically a giant unheated shed. The chickens are in a room in one corner, the walls are insulated but the ceiling not so much. They have an opening to the outside that I close off when it gets bitterly cold. I have to keep their water container on a special heated stand to keep it from freezing, so that’s how cold it gets in there. I suppose I could buy another one (it’s just a metal tray with a wire taped to the underside that is set to heat to about 35 degrees, I think) and put it under the colony, but I don’t think the shape of a biopod is conducive.

    If the larvae go dormant, can they freeze and come back?

  • August 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm
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    I’m fairly certain that freezing will kill larvae or pupae, although my knowledge about this is limited. There seem to be wild BSF populations in areas that experience prolonged periods of freezing temperatures so they have some way of surviving. They couldn’t pupate underground because the emergent adult couldn’t dig to the surface.

    The same factors that allow the juvenile larvae to survive in cold weather, metabolism plus insulation. might allow pupae to survive in similar conditions. Perhaps the prepupal larvae find sites that provide some insulation and then generate heat through the process of pupation. Ultimately I believe they would have to maintain above freezing conditions inside their shell. I imagine less larvae successfully pupate the further north you are.

    DrFood, you may be able to overwinter BSF larvae and pupae in in your hanger without a heat source. I would try elevating pupae a few feet off the ground in a box with sawdust or a similar bedding material. It’s possible they would even mate inside the hanger. I think the hanger would also make a BioPod easy to operate in winter with an insulating disc directly covering the pile.

  • August 24, 2008 at 4:50 pm
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    I am thinking about buying a BioPod, but I may have to restart it every spring with new BSF’s. I remember reading about some folks that were using a repurposed freezer to keep their BSF larvae above freezing, but I’m not THAT into the idea! I can only imagine how icky a chest freezer could get after housing thousands of sacrophages for a few months–and it’s too big to just tip over and clean.

    Still, the BioPod is intriguing. I have a dozen hens, and I think it would be great to provide them with a high quality live whole food. If it works really well, I might try to obtain food waste from my hospital or a local school cafeteria. I am not above dumpster diving–I’ve done that many times!

  • August 24, 2008 at 5:02 pm
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    First, I have to say that I appreciate a dumpster diving doctor. 😉

    I don’t think you would need to go to great lengths to overwinter BSF pupae. All they need is to remain above freezing with humidity around 40% or more. (That percentage is an educated guess.)

    With your semi protected space it should be simple to maintain an actively feeding colony through the winter. BSFL generate a lot of heat as they metabolize food. A little insulation and a daily supply of food for fuel should do the trick.

  • August 28, 2008 at 11:52 pm
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    I have a couple of questions regarding the use of the BF on farms. I am a little concerned that the BF will utilize manure (poultry) that is piled for other uses. Does the BF have to have a certain moisture content? If so, I can control manure access via having it under cover with no extra moisture. This way I could have a ready pile of manure that I could feed the BF growing chamber, just adding a little moisture. Will poultry manure be a good sorce of feed for BF? How about other things like guts and other stuff you get when processing birds?

    Thanks in advance for your information.

    Tom

  • August 29, 2008 at 8:17 am
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    Hi Tom,

    I think BSF will colonize any available pile of manure that’s accessible, even if it’s on the dry side. It might make a difference if you live in a very dry climate, I’d have to think about that. BSF are very common in chicken manure, but I don’t know of anyone who has ever processed it in a BioPod or similar device. I’ve only processed whole fish, but I would think guts would be great food for BSF larvae.

    I’m curious if your main goal is to reduce the manure/guts volume or to raise the larvae for feed. BioPods are sized for the average amount of food scraps generated from a typical household and wouldn’t be practical for more than a small poultry operation. If you want to raise a pound or so of tasty grubs for a small flock a BioPod should work fine.

    One possible problem with using chicken manure in a BioPod is that when BSF larvae process chicken manure it turns it into a liquid. I think it would be pretty messy. Also there might be a problem feeding larvae back to the same species of animal that generated the manure. I’m not sure about that but I would check into it before setting up a system.

    Let me know if you have more questions.

    Jerry

  • August 29, 2008 at 8:31 am
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    I want to use poultry manure to feed the BSF then feed the BSF to tilapia. I do have a litter shed with a lot of poultry litter in it and am worried about it being liquified but I am in TN and have never had this problem, maybe because the litter is relatively dry. It has the consistency of dried sawdust. I have never seen a liquification problem and I am wondering why BSF were not already there. I am in southern middle TN so maybe there is a geographical reason.

    I would like to design a larger BSF system for larger volumes but am very happy with starting with one of your systems.

    Eventually, I want to have laying quail. I could design a system where the quail pens are over a BSF system where the droppings just go to the BSF bin. I could then harvest BSF larvae for my tliapia which are in a different building. I would appreciate a little help with that idea with requirements for BSF larvae in mind. They may require additional feeding, for example. Before I do that, I would like to try one of your BSF systems to get a handle on the requirements of the larvae.

    Thanks for all the information.

    Tom

    Thanks for your help.

  • August 29, 2008 at 9:00 am
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    Since the litter is that dry it might not attract BSF. I’m pretty sure BSF are present in your area and I know of a population of them between Nashville and Chattanooga. The risk of BSF getting into the dry litter will increase if you maintain a colony on your property. If you try raising BSF you might want to do something to prevent the adults from accessing the stored litter.

    Having BSF grubs to feed to your fish would be great. I would do some research before feeding BSF larvae raised on poultry manure to other species of poultry.

    From what I understand you should be able to raise BSF on just about anything that has some nutrition except for grass, paper and other high cellulose items. Different food sources will effect the size and development period of the larvae, but the items you’re talking about should work fine. I think there is evidence that BSF don’t thrive on aged swine manure. I’m not sure how that information might effect you, but I wanted to mention it.

    You might learn something useful from this study:

    USING THE BLACK SOLDIER FLY, Hermetia illucens, AS A VALUE-ADDED TOOL FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF SWINE MANURE

  • August 29, 2008 at 11:41 am
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    It seems to me, and I am just guessing, that some of the reasons of your concern of feeding BSF larvae to poultry when they were raised in poultry waste include the possibility that the BSF is using the nutrients in the poultry litter that the poultry did not use. If you have developed a well formulated poultry feed, the poultry will utilize most of the nutrients as well as they can in one pass through the gut. BSF just get the last bit out of undigested feed and nutrients. Another concern might be pathogens in that particular specie being passed on and actually magnified because they are around that specie more. Feeding BSF raised on poultry manure and fed to tilapia don’t have the same vectors of transmission. Thus, waste by fish can conversely be transformed by BSF to be used in poultry applications. There may also be some other nutrients utilized by poultry or in different forms that fish and or BSF do not use in their biology.

    I will note that poultry by product meal is available in poultry rations which includes feather meal. The processes for these feeds usually kills the possible pathogens related to those animals. The whole bse (mad cow disease) does bring some concern over canibalistic forced feeding (which is what we do when we provide feed). Some species have no problem with this but they are mostly carnivores or in the least, omnivores. Bass, for example, will eat their own kind but are carnivores. Tilapia, in their lives are more to the herbivore side but have some omnivore characteristics at certain stages.

    The thing that interests me over BSF is their ability to transform waste into a useful product and with your help Jerry, in an economical manner. Usually this takes a more complex and less understood biological action on the micro level (composting for example) where the nutrients are still there, but must then go through another vector (through plants again).

    When I first looked into the BSF I was warned that they are more trouble than they are worth with their liquification problems. Maybe this isn’t a real concern as I have not seen it on my farm in stored manure. If we have a native population with any access to my manure (which you say there is a population near me in Lynchburg TN), I don’t need to worry about that concern.

    I am particularly interested in BSF because they are high in methionine (by the cited studies) which is a limiting amino acid in poultry rations. This usually comes from an animal source (like insects). BSF provides that.

    Another limiting amino acid in poultry rations is lysine. Any ideas of more natural ways to get lysine in a ration?

    Thanks,

    Tom

  • August 29, 2008 at 11:59 am
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    Thanks for the great comments Tom.

    I can’t tell you much about lysine, but BSF meal fed swine and beef manure is compared to soybean meal for this amino acid. Check page 8 of the study I linked to for that data.

    I have to admit that I’m a hobbyist and not a scientific researcher, so I’m more of a student than a teacher at this level. I’m happy if you pick anything useful out of my brain. :)

  • October 6, 2008 at 11:49 am
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    When you talk about insulation, do you mean outside the biopod? Not inside, right?
    Thanks!

  • October 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm
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    Hi Imani,

    I suppose it doesn’t matter how you keep them warm, but the simplest method would probably be an insulating disc inside the unit, directly on top of the pile. The disc must have a gap around the sides for oxygen and also to let the grubs come above the insulation if it gets too hot beneath it.

    Styrofoam is good insulation but the larvae will break up the unprotected material so it needs some type of cover. I haven’t tried using such a disc yet but I will be working on one soon. I think I’ll try including some type of convenient handle to facilitate removing the disc when adding food. An important aspect of cool weather biocomposting is regular feeding because food is the fuel that the larvae use to generate the heat they need.

    Thanks for your comment Imani and good luck!

  • November 10, 2008 at 9:57 pm
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    How can I start a colony in the fall or winter periods if I don’t have any BSF flying around right now? I’m anxious to get going with these, but don’t want to wait until Spring?

  • November 11, 2008 at 11:57 am
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    Hi Daniel,

    To establish a decent colony of BSF larvae you need breeding to occur which doesn’t happen in cold weather. BSF become relatively inactive when temps drop below the mid 70’s.

    You can buy the larvae as Phoenix worms but they’ll be extremely expensive. An order of 1200 costs $59 from phoenixworm.com and will only amount to 2-3 cups. (Their website mentions this quantity as “12 cups”, but they don’t mean a true 8 ounce cup of larvae) Compare that to the 50,000 or more larvae that can make up a colony in a 2 ft diameter BioPod and you can see that it’s not very practical. I doubt a few thousand larvae could generate enough heat to thrive in cold weather even with insulation. You could work with a very small colony but I think you would have to find a way to keep the unit consistently warm.

    Maybe you could keep a few thousand indoors for the winter and then move outside with the BioPod in the spring.

  • November 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm
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    Jerry, it seems to me you could put them in a box or enclosure with a heat producing light in it like you would keep just hatched out birds. What about warm heating pads that you use for lizards? Just keep thinking about it and the answer will come. Make it a kid’s science fair project! I don’t think the larvae like light but what about the infa red lamps?

    The Phoenix worms may just be a way to start a colony, not benefit from it in the long run as in the long run you need your own breeders to come back.

    If you did keep them in some kind of a set up, could you keep them there and would they breed? Do they need to fly to breed and if so, how big of an area does it require?

    It seems to me that the BSF will produce a lot of babies even in the fall, so keeping their babies alive is what you want.

    By the way, Jerry, if you grow BSF are they considered Organic Feed by the Organic Standards Board?

    Thanks,

    Tom

  • November 11, 2008 at 12:45 pm
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    Hi Tom,

    Yes, the larvae would do fine as long as they have food, warmth and moisture. They tend to avoid light in general, but they can always hide under the food scraps in the compost. It’s not unusual to see them on the top of a food pile in the daylight.

    The BSF won’t breed in a BioPod or similar unit. The adults mate in flight and won’t do so unless they experience natural light in the proper cycle. They have been successfully bred in outdoor screen enclosures measuring 10 X 10 feet. They haven’t been successfully bred indoors to my knowledge.

    Each winged adult BSF female will lay from 500-900 eggs in her short life of only a few days. I did have some egg laying in south Georgia during the month of October, but it was much less than during the summer.

    I don’t know about BSF larvae being organic feed, but I would imagine it would depend on what they’re raised on if they’re in a controlled environment. Organic in/organic out? :)

  • December 1, 2008 at 9:35 pm
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    I am in Maine and am reading this to debate the idea of keeping BSF on the homestead my fiancee and I are starting up. The idea of being able to feed chickens and guineas on waste from the kitchen and maybe a local restaurant or something is quite alluring. I wonder if a setup such as this http://www.kurtsaxon.com/foods010.htm would work if heated to keep a colony alive through a winter. As my fiancee is a potter we will be running a kiln a few times a week and setting up a heat reclamation system is in the plans anyway.

  • December 3, 2008 at 8:55 pm
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    Amos, you might find the following thread interesting. It’s at the Back Yard Chickens forum and it’s about BSF larvae:

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=11556

    I know very little about houseflies so I can’t comment about the article you linked to except to say that it sure is interesting. Keeping BSF through the winter is fairly simple if you can keep them warm. It can be done by insulating the colony and feeding them regularly but I think that any way you manage to keep them warm will work.

    Good luck with the homestead!

    Jerry

  • April 6, 2009 at 8:46 am
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    The more I read the more I am thinking the keeping black soldier flies is going to require ordering eggs in the spring every year. Maine gets cold for a long time. -40 kind of cold. and then in the spring we dont achieve night time temps above 50 on a regular basis until June.

  • April 6, 2009 at 10:48 am
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    Hi Amos,

    Getting a new batch of eggs or larvae is one way to restart your colony each year, but there are alternatives. As I said in this post you can find a way to insulate the colony, in your case it would probably have to be inside of a shed or garage to keep it relatively simple. You can also choose to store pupae over the winter so you don’t have to depend on others to get restarted, but it’s not as easy as putting them in a fridge. You need to give them a constant supply of air because they’re still alive of course, and you can’t let them dehydrate. Refrigerators are too dry and you can’t use a container with a tight lid to hold in moisture. I haven’t stored pupae this way, but if you can find a way to hold them and still keep them moist you should have success.

  • April 6, 2009 at 11:50 am
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    Thanks Mike,

    I read that presentation a long time ago but I had lost track of it. I’m adding it to the post.

  • April 19, 2009 at 10:10 am
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    We run a hog finishing operation in Indiana. We’ve been researching BSF for a number of months. We’d like to run an experiment on using BSF to stabilize our manure and as a feed suppliment to our hogs. We believe we can set up an environment to successfully breed them year round (my son has a degree in entomology). My concern is getting enough larvae to start a colony. Do any of you have any ideas where we can get large amounts of larvae from established colonies this summer.

    Thanks,

    Tina

    Hi Tina,

    Many attempts have been made by top researchers to breed BSF under artificial lighting. None of these has been successful to my knowledge. If you can figure out how to do it you’ll be responsible for a major breakthrough in BSF technology. I believe a heated greenhouse will work in a northern winter but the expense of maintaining temps in the upper 70’s is very high.

    I think that purchasing large quantities of larvae would be prohibitively expensive. With your son’s background it might just be easier to seed your property with a small number of BSF and grow your own large colony. If you’re in southern Indiana you may have a respectable wild BSF population which would greatly speed up the process. I doubt if that’s true of northern Indiana.

    Good luck and please keep us posted on any progress.

    Jerry

  • April 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm
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    BioSystems Design seems to be making some progress with breeding BSK in a greenhouse environment.

    “After experimenting with a temperature and humidity control system for a number of weeks, we’re proud to report that the collected eggs from the greenhouse environment hatched in an incubation chamber. Given the obstacles overcome, BioSystems Design is now confident in saying that the process can be replicated in a controlled environment anywhere.”

    http://biosystemsblog.com/2009/03/27/eggs-hatch-complete-reproduction-cycle-of-hermetia-illucens-achieved-in-captivity/

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention Mike. I wasn’t aware that breeding BSF in a greenhouse environment was so tricky. The difficulties outlined by the guys at BioSystems Design highlights the challenge faced by those who wish to breed BSF in the total absence of natural sunlight.

    Jerry

  • April 22, 2009 at 11:49 am
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    I just noticed this post over at the BioPod & Black Soldier Fly Community Forum

    “I just spoke with a VermiComposter from Vancouver, BC in Canada she notice grubs in her compost piles beginning may as the weather worms up. So that confirms the notion that they are naturally present.”

    http://thebiopod.com/forum/index.php?topic=3.msg297#msg297

    This is the first information I’ve seen that BSF are native in Canada.

    Thanks Mike!
    It seems to make sense considering how zone 8 goes through the southern US, where BSF are known to be native, and continues up the west coast. I would love to see some better confirmation of this.

  • May 30, 2009 at 6:57 pm
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    Tina, we are in Western KY. If you like, perhaps we can help you with your BSF opportunity using hog manure as feed. We have worked with Dr. Olivier and Dr. Shephard on BSF projects of various kinds.

    Neal
    cavm@aol.com

  • May 30, 2009 at 7:01 pm
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    I would love to hear about a new project if it comes together.

  • August 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm
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    I got a small questions, is it perhaps possible, to keep breed these flies/larve in huge greenhouses?

    especially during the winter periods?
    I live in Europe, and its not the warmest area
    in the world. Hoever, greenhouses, are always warm, and made entirely out of glass, and even in wintertime, people want fresh vegetables

    Yours,

    Werner

  • August 22, 2009 at 8:09 pm
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    Hi Werner,

    It is possible to breed BSF in a greenhouse, but a limiting factor is often the cost of heating such a space. (BSF begin slowing down when the temperature drops below the 20’s centigrade and mating is most successful at much warmer temperatures.) If you have a space that is being heated for growing crops then you might be able to culture BSF there.

  • August 23, 2009 at 4:23 am
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    Thanks for the quick responce, I have another question for you.

    We got alot of greenhouses here for growing the crops indoor, however, is it not possible that the BSF will lay their eggs near the crops?

    so that the larva will start eating the crops, instead of the waste?

  • August 23, 2009 at 7:34 am
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    I don’t think it’s an issue Werner. BSF are very common in many places and I’ve never heard of them damaging crops. BSF are highly specialized scavengers and they couldn’t thrive without rotting or damaged food sources. The females aren’t attracted to fresh fruits or vegetables to lay eggs because the larvae wouldn’t survive. The thin “skin” that makes up the outer layer of fruits and vegetables is enough to prevent the grubs from eating them. The only time I would expect the females to lay eggs on good produce would be if there was rotting produce on the ground directly below. BSF tend to lay their eggs above and near to the food source.

  • August 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm
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    Thanks again for your quick anwser, I still have a question if you dont mind.

    I understand that the BSF or their larva, produce some smell that keep houseflies away, does that also count for other insects? like bees, wasps, butterflies or any other?

  • August 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm
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    You’re quite welcome Werner.

    I’ve never heard of BSF larvae repelling anything except other fly species. The repellent effect is only seen in close proximity to the waste the colony is feeding on. I have seen a few butterflies land on the lid of the BioPod though.

  • September 1, 2009 at 4:22 am
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    I got another one for you

    Im working currently on a way to try and breed them in Europe, you know where its cold, and that only has like 2 or 3 months a year, where they could survive a year, due to the temprature.

    The waste product of the larva? can it be used for something, or is it a waste product that you can throw away?

    • September 1, 2009 at 6:27 am
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      Werner, the residue from biocomposting with black soldier fly larvae can be used as a soil enhancement similar to that made using traditional composting techniques. It is also a very good medium for raising redworms which show increased growth in BSF residue.

    • September 1, 2009 at 6:27 am
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      Werner, the residue from biocomposting with black soldier fly larvae can be used as a soil enhancement similar to that made using traditional composting techniques. It is also a very good medium for raising redworms which show increased growth in BSF residue.

  • September 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm
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    Jerry

    Your statement “… the residue from biocomposting with black soldier fly larvae can be used as a soil enhancement similar to that made using traditional composting techniques. It is also a very good medium for raising redworms which show increased growth in BSF residue.” got me thinking. How do BSFL castings compare to worm castings?

    If you just wanted a soil amendment are worms required? Do they ‘finish off’ the BSFL castings producing a better product? Are worm castings more marketable than ‘maggot’ castings (less yuck factor)?

    • September 2, 2009 at 8:29 pm
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      Mike, the only question I can answer with any authority is yes, worm castings are more marketable than maggot castings. :)

      I generally shy away from the common term “maggot” because of the negative connotation. I’ve been using “grub” lately even though it’s inaccurate. I’m currently considering the term “grublarvamaggot”. 😀

  • January 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm
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    Hello,

    I lived in Maine and now live in Idaho, both very cold places in the winter. I had BFL show up in my compost late in the summer a couple of years ago. I was amazed as I watched them reduce anything I put in the bin. The next summer, they didn’t come back until August. I would like to have them all spring and summer so I brought some inside this fall. I put a small plastic bin (11 x 7 inches, 8 inches deep) on my enclosed back porch. I have been feeding them kitchen scraps all fall and winter. They are doing great! It is about 55 degrees on the porch. My container is getting full and not able to handle all our kitchen waste and I am getting ready to move them to a bit bigger bin. I keep the bin covered with a small piece of fabric so I can easily deposit scraps. There is a very mild odor, but not a bad odor. (My compost bin outside never smelled bad either, once the BSF came.) In this way I can overwinter and have them all year. For those of you who need a larger amount, maybe you can just use a larger tub, and mutiple tubs. I have really enjoyed having them in the porch, next to the kitchen.

    In this way, anyone can cultivate BSF!

    • January 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm
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      Hi Brad,

      I’m surprised to hear about BSF showing up in either Maine or Idaho. Did you find them in both states or just in Idaho? I’m very interested in your observations because my experience is in a much warmer climate (FL/GA). I hope you will keep us posted about your progress this spring and summer.

  • January 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm
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    Brad, congratulations on your success. How did you get the BSF adults to mate over the winter to replenish your larvae?

  • January 16, 2010 at 3:40 am
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    Neal,

    I am not sure I can tell you about the mating. Reading Jerry’s comments, I would guess they just did their thing on the back porch without me noticing. I can confirm that the life cycle has REALLY slowed down. I have a piece of plastic pipe coming out of the plastic bin…a way for the mature ones to leave the bin. They crawl up the pipe and drop into a separete container. I have only actually seen three do so at this point. But I continue to have new, small larvae.

    I did not have BSF in Maine but I did not do much outdoor work there.

    Happy New Year!

  • March 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm
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    I live in Oregon now and am just discovering that what I had in my compost bin in Florida were BSF. I am making a DIY bucket per the instructions on this blog. Will I be able to attract BSF here in the Portland area in the spring or will it more likely be summer? I don’t know anyone composting with BSF in the Portland area, but if I found someone would it be possible to start a colony this time of year?

    • March 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm
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      Hi Neta,

      I’m pretty sure there are BSF in Portland, but I would be surprised if you say mating before June, July being more likely. The larvae can survive if only kept warm and moist, for reproduction you need warm days and I expect the bulk of mating will happen in August for your area. You can start anytime with whatever larvae you can buy or collect but it’s cost prohibitive to purchase a significant colony. Still, it would be preferable to have even a tiny colony as the mating season begins because they will serve to attract the local females very well. In your cool climate you’ll need to maximize the short breeding season.

  • November 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm
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    I’ve mentioned this link elsewhere on this blog but thought this discussion is a more appropriate

    This person is located north of Seattle and has had success raising BSF indoors (in a house). Here’s an excerpt from the blog:

    “I have proved that indoors, at least, one can hatch one batch, have them lay eggs, and hatch the next batch … in a small terrarium with a net flying enclosure attached.”

    http://eatingoffthefoodgrid.blogspot.com/search/label/Black%20Soldier%20Flies

  • May 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm
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    Hello all, I found this site while browsing for information on raising BSF in cold climates. I bought a biopod 3 years ago, and have lost interest in that hobby. I would like to sell my perfectly good biopod at a discount (It originally cost me $150). Would anyone know of anyone who would be interested in my biopod? It works perfectly well, but does need some time devoted to keeping conditions correct for raising these wonderful insects.

  • May 18, 2011 at 12:24 am
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    Hi Ann,

    Where are you located? I might be interested but need to see about shipping.

  • May 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm
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    Brad, I am located in north central Ohio, about an hour west of Akron and an hour southwest of Cleveland. Ann

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