Attracting BSF (Hermetia illucens)

Attracting the initial black soldier fly (BSF) females to start up a BSF composter can be problematic if you don’t understand the basic principles involved. Of course the first step is to determine if your area is populated by BSF, but once you’re satisfied that they’re present it shouldn’t be too difficult to attract them.

Realistic time frame

Often people are successful at inoculating their composters before they even know it. It’s important to understand that it can take 2 – 4 weeks from the time that eggs are laid until you can easily see the resulting larvae or “grubs”. Sometimes you can see clutches of eggs laid in the corners or crevices of the composter or bait container, however, often the females randomly scatter their tiny eggs on the inner and outer walls of the unit. That makes it almost impossible to see them without magnification. The newly hatched larvae are also tiny so after the bait (food scrap) has been out for several days they could be present without being obvious. For that reason it’s usually not wise to throw away any existing bait and start over; you may very well be discarding recently hatched larvae. Below is a photo of a black soldier fly larva (BSFL) on the sixth day after it’s egg was laid which makes it approximately two days old. You just can’t glance at a pile of rotting food and know if these little creatures are present or not.

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