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 Starting up again 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:30 am
Posts: 39
Location: San Jose California
Post Starting up again
This will be my 2nd year raising BSFL. I live in the California Bay Area. Started last July with a lot of helpful tips from this forum. Fed them mainly with quail poops.
Things went dormant around November. But the weather here never "freezes" so I still have surviving larvae - some pre-pupate recently migrated and hundreds (maybe thousands) baby larvae beginning to be active again.

A couple things I learned from last year experiment:

1. I used a 33 gallons trash can last year. It was tall and resulted in too deep a pile and too little surface area. Learned that the larvae prefer to be a few inches from the surface, so poops in the deep space is left to rot. This year I will be building a new bin using a 30 gallons tote (rectangular) box with more surface area. I also hope to improve with a larger ramp and a more effective crawl-off guard.

2. I think I fed it with too much quail poops last year. This year I plan to leave the quail poop to dry first, then feed just enough to the bin. I did find it hard to determine just much to feed every day.

I don't know what to do with my existing trash can bin. It is filled with gooey quail poop (probably fully composted by now). It is wet and messy, from the few times that I drained the bin. (I'm beginning to think that drainage may not be such a great idea if poop is the main food source). Back to my existing bin, I really want to start a fresh new bin with dryer and smaller quantity of feed everyday. But I don't want to dump my existing bin because I don't want to lose thousands of baby larvae already in there.

Also trying to speed up the maturation - egg laying phase with an incubator I have, hoping to get a head start this year. Below are some photos of this effort:

Set up using an incubator made out of a cooler, thus the name "coolerbator". Temperature set around 85F, humidity 60-80%. I leave this box outdoor, with about an hour direct sunlight through the glass window.
Image

Here's what go inside the coolerbator - a prepupate larvae under wood shaving (right bowl), egg collection bowl (see photo below), water source (top left), light bulb to generate heat (bottom left):
Image

Close up of the egg collection bowl (used coffee ground under a thin layer of chicken feed. The slit on top cover serves both to hold the corrugated plastic and to create an opening for female flies to enter:
Image

I hope to update you with progress. Appreciate any suggestion / comment.


Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:17 am
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Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:59 pm
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Location: Alberta Canada
Post Re: Starting up again
Hi CD and thanks for the very informative update. It's nice to have a report of BSFL successfully overwintering in a bin. What would have been the lowest temperatures seen over the winter?

Drying the poop sounds like a good idea to reduce the 'messy' aspect. I guess you could do the same with the material in your old bin and then add it to your new bin in small quantities. Otherwise if you can just let it sit where no further water can get in and let the BSFL do their thing until there's no more food to be had. At that point the BSF females should stop laying eggs and you should be left with just the processed material to use as compost.

As a reminder for others CD had a volunteer colony start with out any help in a garbage can of quail poop. Sometimes it pays not to over think things when trying to raise BSFL.

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I Believe The Black Soldier Fly Has The Potential To Be A Beneficial Insect Second Only To Pollinating Bees


Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:25 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
I really like your incubator idea; thanks for sharing. Could be a good solution to year-round egg laying on a smaller scale. Hope to hear some positive updates. My incubator is pretty small though; I'll probably try it with my small one but may have to make a bigger one (was planning to anyways as current incubator only holds about 20 chicken eggs and is styrofoam).


Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:12 pm
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Location: San Jose California
Post Re: Starting up again
Akon: I used this incubator last Fall and had about 30-40 adult flies in the box. Was able to get eggs deposit and hatched into baby larvae inside the coffee bowl, but not a lot. I think it would be more productive if it had more room inside. I made some changes, but if I can just get a few thousands larvae to get an earlier start this year I'll be happy. BTW you can never have an incubator big enough :-)

BW: We only had like a couple nights barely below freezing here. The coldest winter nights were in the upper 30's so it's not bad. I did see baby larvae during the winter but they were all dormant, only became more active recently. You were right about keeping it simple. I tried a few other ideas last year, way more complicated, and found out by accident that just a simple garbage can of poultry poops worked the best. Now I did start out buying 300 larvae to seed my area and I think it helped. There might be native BSF in my area but I don't know if it'd been as successful without the seed larvae.


Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:06 pm
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Post Re: Starting up again
CookiesDaddy wrote:
... I used this incubator last Fall and had about 30-40 adult flies in the box. Was able to get eggs deposit and hatched into baby larvae inside the coffee bowl, but not a lot.
I think this is now more than an 'incubator' and deserves a new name ;)

In any case I've pointed to this thread from the Small Scale Indoor Breeding topic (link). Although it was outdoors it is definitely small scale and successful.

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Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:47 pm
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Post Re: Starting up again
Quote:
CookiesDaddy wrote:
.... I also hope to improve with a larger ramp and a more effective crawl-off guard.

If you mean something to stop the grubs escaping, here's one you can use with confidence.
BTW, thanks for the tip about the glue. ;)


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Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:54 am
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:30 am
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Location: San Jose California
Post Re: Starting up again
Thanks Pete - I saw your design before wanted to do just that. I'm going to try with this 1/2" vinyl bead first since it's cheap. I bought a 10' length for $1.70 from Home Depot. Will report how it works.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Phillips-Man ... /203116184


Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:16 am
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Location: San Jose California
Post Re: Starting up again
Just a quick update ... it's been exactly a month since I started the incubator with pre-pupate larvae, keeping the temperature at around 90F, humidity 60-80%. NO SIGN OF ADULT BSF YET. I'm surprised it's taken this long. I read / heard somewhere that larvae developing over the winter may be different biologically and will mature differently (more slowly?)


Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:44 am
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Location: San Jose California
Post Re: Starting up again
I just want to give an update. It's been 6 weeks and there's no adult fly. All of my pupae seem to dry out and die. I tried to keep the coolerbator moist, around 80%, but sometime forgot to add water so it dried out. The pupae are underneath about 2-3 inches of pine shaving inside a foam bowl. I think the pine shaving keep the pupae dehydrated and too dry to pupate. I give up and just let nature takes it course :-)

In the meanwhile, I've fed the baby larvae with moderate amount of coffee ground and bread crumbs. Some salad. They're growing very slowly, still very tiny. There are a million of them (OK ... I didn't count, just a lot), but they don't seem to be growing much. Patient!


Sun May 10, 2015 3:28 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
You might consider feeding your larvae some more nutrient-rich foods.

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*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Sun May 10, 2015 10:11 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
Please give some examples. Chicken feed good enough? Left over rice? Those I have plenty of. Thanks Jerry.


Mon May 11, 2015 4:48 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
I would feed them a variety based on whatever waste I generated in my kitchen. For me, that would include animal protein in quantities that the colony could process relatively quickly ( less than one day).

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*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Mon May 11, 2015 11:46 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
Thanks for the tip. I was afraid to feed them meat. Just threw out a large bag of cooked chicken meat from church :-( For this to work I would have to grind up the meat and mix it in the first couple inches of my pod. The larvae are quite small and spread throughout the surface. Putting a chunk of meat would not reach all of them and unlike be consumed in one day. Thanks again Jerry.


Tue May 12, 2015 3:49 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
No need to grind anything in my opinion. You also don't need to mix it in as the larvae will come to the surface for it. I would experiment by adding a few small pieces, maybe an ounce, or a bone with a little meat on it, and observe what happens.

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*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Tue May 12, 2015 9:40 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
So angry at myself ... the bin from last year where I had probably hundred of thousands of baby larvae survived through the winter - I must have killed them all! A few weeks ago I saw a zillion of them wiggling and now nothing. Not sure why. I think either because I was feeding them with so much coffee ground (I though this would be safe for them). Or because I left them under a few hours of sun. It has not gotten that hot yet though. I think it's the coffee. This was before I received the tip from Jerry to put in more protein. So I've putting chicken feed. But no help. I can barely see any wiggling larvae now. SAD :-(

I give up!


Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:47 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
Sorry to hear that CD. On the positive side you were successful in attracting wild BSF last year so it's likely you'll be able to repeat that again. Hopefully you'll be able to reestablish your colony and start over.

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Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:31 am
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Post Re: Starting up again
BorealWormer wrote:
Sorry to hear that CD. On the positive side you were successful in attracting wild BSF last year so it's likely you'll be able to repeat that again. Hopefully you'll be able to reestablish your colony and start over.


Last year I did purchase 300 larvae to start with. A few months later I found a colony in a trash can of quail manure. Was uncertain whether it was from my seed batch or wild. I suspect it was from my purchased larvae, but will know better this year.


Sat Jun 13, 2015 5:17 am
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