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 Small Scale Indoor Breeding 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:30 am
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Location: San Jose California
Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
I'm looking at modifying a cooler-incubator to breed BSFL - hopefully to keep a colony over the winter and get a head start early next year. An incubator already has temperature and humidity under control. I need to add the right amount light (and polarization???), and make sure not too much ventilation (incubator usually has a small internal fan running which will likely be too much air circulation).


Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:44 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Setting up for unattended operation during vacations.

Due to the manual nature of my bin (link) I do not try to maintain supplemental heating or lighting when the bin is unattended. My aim is only to provide adequate food, water and humidity.

As suggested by Jerry, raw potato is used as vacation food. This dense vegetable takes longer for the larvae to eat. I generally feed about 6 grams per day on average so try to have the potato weight, in grams, match 6 times the number of days that I'll be away. This large slice of potato (typically 80 to 90 grams) is placed in the rearing tub the same as in normal feeding.

Water and humidity are provided by adding a lidded water filled tub equipped with cotton wicks. Only rain or snow melt water is used. Also, the bin remains covered with a transparent plastic sheet to retain the humidity.

It turns out the BSF are not the most skillful fliers in the insect world and they would often end up landing in open dishes of water and drowning. I added a screened lid to stop the carnage but then the flies could not access the water. The wicks stay wet and allow evaporation into the bin. The BSF seem to like resting on the wet wicks so I believe they're taking in water.

Attachment:
File comment: Water Container Parts
Lid With A Slit, 850cc Margarine Tub & Cotton Strips.

BSF_WC01.jpg
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Attachment:
File comment: Tub Filled To 3cm With Rain Water, Cotton Strips Soaked In Water
Then Passed Through Slit In Lid.

BSF_WC02.jpg
BSF_WC02.jpg [ 223.75 KiB | Viewed 7351 times ]


Attachment:
File comment: Cotton Strips Are Folded Over To Create A Double Layer.
BSF_WC03.jpg
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My system was left unattended for two week periods in both October and November of this year. Direct sunlight shining on the bin is almost zero in November and the rearing tub minimum temperatures were recorded as about 20°C during both months (assumed to be during my absences).

The population was fine and seemed unaffected by the lack of lighting (direct sunlight or Compact Fluorescent Lights) and supplemental heat when left unattended under these conditions.

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Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:59 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Nice to see this still up and running!


Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:12 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
CookiesDaddy wrote:
I'm looking at modifying a cooler-incubator to breed BSFL - hopefully to keep a colony over the winter and get a head start early next year. <snip>
There's an update on this project in this thread (link). CD has successfully had BSF complete their life cycle in the "coolerbator" so it is more than an incubator. Although it was outdoors it is definitely small scale and successful.

Image

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Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:46 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
I periodically remove about half the contents of the rearing tub in my system into a separate pail which is isolated from the bin so no additional eggs can be laid in the material. Details of this pail can be found in this post (link). Among other things this provides an opportunity to get an idea of the duration of the BSF life cycle in my indoor system.

The pail is checked daily and larvae that have crawled out of the tub are transferred back to the main bin. After 69 days the frass in the maturation tub was dumped out and 27 larvae were found. These were all cream colored so were still not fully mature and not in the dark prepupal stage. They varied between 10 and 25 millimetres in length.

Attachment:
BSFL20150426.jpg
BSFL20150426.jpg [ 135.45 KiB | Viewed 6807 times ]


The typical duration of the larval and pupal stages has been described as "Three weeks as larvae after hatching and three weeks pupation before emergence!"(link). However the duration of both stages can be greatly affected by local conditions such as availability of food and the temperature. There is also natural variability in the growth of the larvae (link).

I think all of these played a role in the maturation pail and explain why immature larvae were still present 69 days after any eggs could have been laid. It is kept at room temperature and was limited in food in proportion to the population in the maturation tub which was higher than expected.

When the frass was removed from the rearing tub the larvae obligingly quickly crawled deeper as I removed the upper layers. As a result I had hoped not many larvae remained in the material transferred so less will need to be transferred back from the maturation pail. No such luck :D

In total 1292 larvae and 36 flies were transferred back to the main bin. All but three of the larvae were immature and light colored. Most of the larvae crawled out of the tub and were collected from the pail bottom. As an estimate, 25% of the larvae did not 'crawl off' and were instead removed from the frass in the last few days.

Attachment:
2015MaturationPail.jpg
2015MaturationPail.jpg [ 37.41 KiB | Viewed 6807 times ]


So why did so many flies eclose in the pail? The larvae are obviously finding the conditions in the rearing tub favorable to pupate. I believe that these larvae also favor the top layers of the rearing tub rather than the wetter bottom so they would be collected when I transfer the top layers of material to the maturation pail.

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Sat May 16, 2015 7:16 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Aussiemoo is developing an indoor breeding system (link) with which he hopes to create a body of data to establish optimal breeding conditions.

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Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:44 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
My original plan was to supplement my local wild population with some/all of my adult flies (I don't have anything to eat the mature larvae, yet).

These few weeks later with no sightings, I'm starting to wonder if there is such a population, and if any adults I released would just fly away.

Naturally, I'm beginning to think I should secure the future of my colony with a captive breeding enclosure. I've been through this entire thread, and I see several are having pretty good luck with this, so I'm encouraged.

The plan I have roughed out in my head is for a plastic tub base with some substrate and some kind of smaller container(s) to encourage controlled ovipositing and for larvae to hatch into. There will be an "aviary" upper section made from standard fiberglass window screen, with some kind of framework to support it and allow access. This enclosure will be outdoors, but with a roof above it (covered deck).

I'm hoping that with indirect natural light, my flies will readily mate. I plan to infuse my composter with newly hatched larvae from this unit, and by the end of the warm season, collect enough pupae to overwinter and get me started with breeding again in the spring.

Eventually, I want to incorporate all of this into a greenhouse, but that may be 1 or 2 seasons away yet... does this sound like something I could sustain for that period of time? I'd like to be able to continue composting over the winter without bringing the breeding program indoors as well... do you guys think its feasible to keep a few batches of young larvae in a dormant state to keep my composter active for 6 months or so?

One more question - is there any reason to be concerned about inbreeding, assuming I never get *any* wild genetic infusions? I'm guessing that the batch of larvae I bought are not all siblings, but over time.... I guess it could become an issue?


Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:59 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
jf371 wrote:
... The plan I have roughed out in my head is for a plastic tub base with some substrate and some kind of smaller container(s) to encourage controlled ovipositing and for larvae to hatch into. There will be an "aviary" upper section made from standard fiberglass window screen, with some kind of framework to support it and allow access. This enclosure will be outdoors, but with a roof above it (covered deck).
BSF love it hot and humid so you'll have to watch those conditions. Misting the bin might be required for humidity and to 'water' your 'livestock'.

Quote:
I'm hoping that with indirect natural light, my flies will readily mate.
I'd give that a try but be prepared to provide additional lighting or some exposure to direct sunlight (even if only through a window).

Quote:
I plan to infuse my composter with newly hatched larvae from this unit, and by the end of the warm season, collect enough pupae to overwinter and get me started with breeding again in the spring.

Eventually, I want to incorporate all of this into a greenhouse, but that may be 1 or 2 seasons away yet... does this sound like something I could sustain for that period of time?
I've had my indoor colony for several years now so it should be possible. However it is active year round. Are you planning on storing the larvae indoors? I can't remember anyone who has overwintered collected larvae stored outdoors but folks do have them survive in outdoor bins (link).

Quote:
I'd like to be able to continue composting over the winter without bringing the breeding program indoors as well... do you guys think its feasible to keep a few batches of young larvae in a dormant state to keep my composter active for 6 months or so?
Not sure exactly what you're asking. The larvae do generate a lot of heat and there has been some experimenting with keeping colonies active outside during the winter with insulated bins. This site reported "The difference in temperature between inside and outside the unit can exceed at times 82F or 45 C." In the link below look under What Happens in Winter for a graph and some info.
http://www.esrint.com/pages/bioconversion.html

Quote:
One more question - is there any reason to be concerned about inbreeding, assuming I never get *any* wild genetic infusions? I'm guessing that the batch of larvae I bought are not all siblings, but over time.... I guess it could become an issue?
I've never seen anything documented on this being a problem. That said, if you can occasionally introduce new material into the gene pool it's probably a good thing.

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:59 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
BorealWormer wrote:

Not sure exactly what you're asking. The larvae do generate a lot of heat and there has been some experimenting with keeping colonies active outside during the winter with insulated bins. This site reported "The difference in temperature between inside and outside the unit can exceed at times 82F or 45 C." In the link below look under What Happens in Winter for a graph and some info.
http://www.esrint.com/pages/bioconversion.html


That statement is not completely true, the heat produced by the larvae metabolism is minimal compared with the heat produced by microorganisms, probably they are symbionts, somehow the larvae allow those microorganism to grow and produce heat for mutual benefit. Also when the temperature drops drastically, the larvae metabolism decrease, they won't be able to produce more heat and die, so at some point, it is sure that they need the heat produced by the metabolism of some microorganisms. Moreover the larvae need nutrients for producing that heat, and they will spend most of their body reserves so likely they won't be able to survive the whole winter.


Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:21 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Thank you for the clarification Alfredo.

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:30 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
BorealWormer wrote:
jf371 wrote:

I'd like to be able to continue composting over the winter without bringing the breeding program indoors as well... do you guys think its feasible to keep a few batches of young larvae in a dormant state to keep my composter active for 6 months or so?
Not sure exactly what you're asking. The larvae do generate a lot of heat and there has been some experimenting with keeping colonies active outside during the winter with insulated bins. This site reported "The difference in temperature between inside and outside the unit can exceed at times 82F or 45 C." In the link below look under What Happens in Winter for a graph and some info.
http://www.esrint.com/pages/bioconversion.html


Well I'm thinking I'd bring the composter indoors when it started to get really cold, but I wouldn't have any new eggs being laid after September or so (?)... I was wondering if I could divert some of my new larvae into containers and chill them enough that they'll go dormant but not enough to kill them off. I read a post (yours, if I'm not mistaken) where someone had some young larvae die off in the refrigerator. Maybe a cool dark spot in the basement, and just not give them any food...? The goal here is to continue to have new batches of larvae eating my kitchen scraps over the winter, rather than them all crawling off by December.

I suppose the alternative would be to freeze scraps and have larger composters kicking into high gear ASAP the next spring ...

I really just need to build that greenhouse, I guess ... haha.


Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:24 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
jf371 wrote:
Well I'm thinking I'd bring the composter indoors when it started to get really cold, but I wouldn't have any new eggs being laid after September or so (?)... I was wondering if I could divert some of my new larvae into containers and chill them enough that they'll go dormant but not enough to kill them off <snip> The goal here is to continue to have new batches of larvae eating my kitchen scraps over the winter, rather than them all crawling off by December.
It is possible to keep larvae for long periods. From the link in my last post:
Under ideal conditions, it takes about two weeks for the larvae to reach maturity. If the temperature is not right, or if there is not enough food, this period of 2 weeks may extend to six months.

Are you thinking of bringing batches of larvae out of dormancy periodically to replace those that have crawled off in order to keep the bin active through the winter?

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:49 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
BorealWormer wrote:
Are you thinking of bringing batches of larvae out of dormancy periodically to replace those that have crawled off in order to keep the bin active through the winter?


That's what I'm thinking ... sounds like a little cool starvation is the ticket. Thanks!


Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:51 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Great. I hope you'll keep records of what works for you and share with us. Here are some links on previous efforts on storing live larvae (link), (link) & (link)

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Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:28 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Hi everyone,
I need your advices! ( sorry for my bad english)
I'm from Madagascar, last year i tried to breed bsf in an outdoor system but there was no success.
I bought the pupa from Pete B of South africa.
THis year I try to rear in an indoor system.
This is my installation
Attachment:
DSC05489.JPG
DSC05489.JPG [ 146.56 KiB | Viewed 6378 times ]

Lighting:
I use three 33watt CFL an two 5watt led lamp.
Attachment:
DSC05486.JPG
DSC05486.JPG [ 135.86 KiB | Viewed 6378 times ]

Temperature and relative humidity:
I use a tempareture and humidity controller
The temprature is beetween 26,8 and 28.5°C
The relative humidity is between 65 an 73%
What can I do to improve my system?
Do I have to mist the wall in the morning?
This is my egg trap
Attachment:
DSC05495.JPG
DSC05495.JPG [ 154.15 KiB | Viewed 6378 times ]


Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:43 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
lantohery yes you should mist the interior daily. That will provide water for the flies to drink and raise the humidity.

How long do you have the lights on daily?

What are the lumen and color specifications for the lights?

What are the inside dimensions of your bin?

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:45 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Hi Boreal,Hi Peter,
Thanks for your responses
I turn on the light at 7 am and i turn it off at 6 pm,
As the cfl bulbs are made in china, the only thing i know is that each bulb is about 33watt, normaly it is about 2600 lumen (each) but i can't tell you exactly how much lument it is even the color. Same thing about the led bulb. If I put one more CFL bulb, the temperature is too hot.
THe inside dimension of the fridge is about: 45X45X90 cm but idivided it in two floor, the upper floor about 45X45X50 cm high, inside the buttom, i put a bucket with a little water pump inside wich regulate the humidity.
Attachment:
DSC05498.JPG
DSC05498.JPG [ 135.33 KiB | Viewed 6360 times ]

I just mist the wall now and the relative humidity is raising to 96%!
Until now 14 flies has hatched (since Jul 02) and 6 are dead, the truth is I never misted the wall because i think the water pump was enough.
Peter, unfortunately i couldn't have pupae here in Madagascar, there are from France, I purchased 400 pupae there but the 300 were larvae and they died. Your pupae were very strong but it is not easy to find someone who goes there.
Do you think 100 pupae are enough? It is not sure that all will hatch!
Best regars,


Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:21 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
lantohery wrote:
... I just mist the wall now and the relative humidity is raising to 96%!
Until now 14 flies has hatched (since Jul 02) and 6 are dead, the truth is I never misted the wall because i think the water pump was enough.
The humidity will spike for a while as the water droplets evaporate. PeteB has a photo of a BSF drinking a water droplet which is posted somewhere on the forum.

What does the water pump do?

Is there any air circulation? vents to let air in and out?

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BorealWormer

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:33 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
lantohery wrote:
... I turn on the light at 7 am and i turn it off at 6 pm,
As the cfl bulbs are made in china, the only thing i know is that each bulb is about 33watt, normaly it is about 2600 lumen (each) but i can't tell you exactly how much lument it is even the color. Same thing about the led bulb. If I put one more CFL bulb, the temperature is too hot.
The inside dimension of the fridge is about: 45X45X90 cm but idivided it in two floor, the upper floor about 45X45X50 cm high
That sounds good. Here's a short summary of lighting used by people who have been successful with indoor breeding of BSF (link) (link)

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:38 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Boreal,
The water pump is for the relative humidity, the controler turn it on when RH drops and turn it off if the RH is more than 70%. It looks like a little fountain inside the bucket.
THe fridge is not really airtight, there is one hole about 1 cm². I tink i will drill more hole tomorrow. I've seen this link that's why I put 3 CFL bulb as you suggested.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:56 pm
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