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 What BSF larvae cannot eat... 
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Post What BSF larvae cannot eat...
The examples of organic materials that BSFL can eat is a long (but interesting) list. A much shorter list would be the organic matter that BSFL cannot consume. For plant matter, the key limiting factor seems to be cellulose. Could it be calcium in animal tissue?

I'll start by listing what I believe is not on the BSFL menu:

Deciduous and coniferous (tree) leaves
Grasses (unless first eaten by ruminants, or possibly after a certain point of microbial decomposition)
Woody plant cores/stems - includes wood/paper, corn cobs, etc.
Hulls/husks of grains, seeds and nuts
Skins of most fruits and vegetables
Bone tissue, hair, nails, claws and scales


What have I missed?

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Mon May 12, 2014 8:36 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Big chunks of fat and grease can be a disaster. :( I think it blocks their breathing pores.


Mon May 12, 2014 12:07 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Thanks Peter. Since we know that BSFL do eat fats in general, can you explain a little bit about your experiences relating to this? How much fat caused the issue, and what was the disaster?

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Mon May 12, 2014 2:52 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
I once added a one pound lump of solid pork fat to a 12 gallon bin. As usual, they moved in and attacked it with gusto, but after a while they staged a mass escape.
Tens of thousands of grubs, all the way through to tiny babies. They were covered in sticky slime and horrible to work with.
They left a thick ring of fatty sludge around the sides of the bin, and cleaning out the mess was a rather unpleasant task.
I don’t say fatty meat is a no-no, but do it slowly, small pieces over a period of time.


Mon May 12, 2014 9:10 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Thanks Peter.

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Tue May 13, 2014 10:23 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Talking about grease, this goo has built up over the last 6 months. Note the stalactites :lol:
They get loads of bread, muffins, cupcakes, etc.


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Sat May 17, 2014 4:05 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Thanks for sharing that Peter.

Without knowing it, I was testing the limits of fats in BSF composters as I was starting this topic. I had gotten several kilos of pasta and grain salad from a catering company, and I had been adding it to one of my bins over several days. The fat content of this item must have been quite high; I suspect it had a lot of olive oil, cheese, and it also contained many Marcona almonds (delicious almonds from Spain which have a high fat content).

I started to notice a change in the behavior of the larvae just about the time that Peter posted above about fats. I too had tiny larvae migrating out of the composter, and most of the larvae were at the top of the waste with their rear ends exposed to the air. I had also been processing a large quantity of fresh (but rotting) tomatoes, and I had a red oily coating in the composter and drain tube.

In response to the oil issue I've added dry cornmeal, in the hopes that it will absorb the excess oils. It may work, but one short term result has been that the cornmeal formed a dense, sticky layer that is making drainage difficult.

I've also considered "washing" the waste with soap. Since BSFL are very resistance to many chemicals, I wonder if it would be safe to flood the unit with water and a little soap, mix it around to break down the oil, and then flush it out? One concern is that some soaps are used as insecticides against certain types of insects, so some testing would be needed.


Will BSFL process some oils better than others?

I wonder if we can use the human digestive system as a guide? We're told to avoid certain fats, and to eat others in moderation. Perhaps this rule will help guide us in managing our BSF composters.

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Sat May 17, 2014 9:16 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Quote:
I've also considered "washing" the waste with soap

Soap may be a bit hectic, but a quick flip through Google shows that milk (casein), eggs (albumin), legumes and seaweed (agar) are all emulsifying agents.


Sat May 17, 2014 1:17 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Potassium hydroxide salts of fatty acid is the insecticidal oil derivative; this means a "Castile" soap (like Dr. Bronner's). To cut grease one needs a surfactant & a solvent.
Sulfated castor oil, "Turkey Red" oil is a surfactant & being fully soluble in water acts as a detergent. Although it was used as a wetting agent for insecticides it has no toxic ricin molecules itself.
The processing of castor oil with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) leads to an end product's side wing of an " -O-SO3H " grouping. I do not know how reactive that sulphur would be, however sulphur is more fungicidal than insecticidal. When dissolved in distilled water (no ions) at a rate of 10% sulfated castor oil the pH is 7-8 pH & since sulphur is used in various instances to lower pH then a " -O-SO3H" may be safe while it flows alongside/around a larvae.
A good solvent derived from acetic acid is called propyl acetate. Since this is used as a flavoring agent in human food it should pose not problem for larvae. My best guess on the ratio of solvent to surfactant (detergent) would be to have 2 parts by weight of propyl acetate to every 1 part by weight of sulfated castor oil.


Sat May 17, 2014 7:11 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Thanks gringojay. If you were going to test a readily available product for breaking down fats in a BSF composter what would it be. Is there a type or brand you can think of that might work?

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Mon May 26, 2014 8:13 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
They certainly don't like Beetroot. These pieces have been in a busy bin for about a month. It still looks like purple rubber. :)


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Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:50 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Strange that, I would have thought the sugar in beets would have made them a treat.


Sat Dec 13, 2014 2:17 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
I would guess that BSF would happily eat the beets if they were softened by some process.

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Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:46 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Fresh (unused) coffee pods don't work.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:10 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
I've been thinning out a bed of mint and figured that I should ask whether or not mint can be added to my compost. I know that a lot of insects dislike mint and I don't want to upset my BSF larvae. Anyone know if it's ill-advised or o.k.?


Mon May 11, 2015 7:56 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
FLSusan welcome to our forum :) If you'd like you can introduce yourself here (link).

Can't answer your question about mint but if you have a wild population of BSF we would love to add your location to our Black Soldier Fly Mapping Project (link). See the Range and Identification section (link) for instructions.

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Mon May 11, 2015 8:14 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
BorealWormer wrote:
FLSusan welcome to our forum :) If you'd like you can introduce yourself here (link).

Can't answer your question about mint but if you have a wild population of BSF we would love to add your location to our Black Soldier Fly Mapping Project (link). See the Range and Identification section (link) for instructions.


I just posted my info. and I'm sending a few photos.


Mon May 11, 2015 9:13 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Will BSFL do anything with egg shells? I imagine they will suck up the eggy residues, but the shells themselves?


Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:30 pm
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Nothing can get rid of egg shells, they can survive for a LOONG time. I have found that BSf enjoy hanging out in them as pre-pupae, and too many egg shells can inhibit the number that crawl off the pile. Eventually in a hot BSF pile the shells get softer and easier to break, but nothing can consume them.


Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:31 am
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Post Re: What BSF larvae cannot eat...
Eeg shellswill only be dissolved slowly by the acids present in the frass/ waste.
they are a good scource of calcium for plants. they will also stabilize / buffer the acidity of the waste products of the BSFL.
If you consider usuing the wast/frazz for redworms the egsshells will keep it within an acceptable range for the redworms.


Sat Jun 20, 2015 11:10 am
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