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 Composter customer questions via email 
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Post Composter customer questions via email
In this thread I will share questions that my composter customers have sent me in emails, and my answers.

I want to encourage everyone to chime in, and either add to my answers or question them. I always think I'm right until I find out that I'm wrong. :lol:


Quote:
Dear Jerry,

Thank you so much for running the blog site and being a source of information for people interested in trying to grow BSFL. I have started a new system with your small clear plastic set-up around three weeks ago. I have a few quick newbie questions which I could not find an answer to on the web.

I have a worm composter tower which I set up near the BSFL bin, I noticed that the BSFL are in the worm bin as well and do not seem to get along well with the worms (they are found in different areas and on different trays), I cleaned out as many of the BSFL as I could but I’m sure I missed the smallest ones and they will continue to be an issue. should I be concerned or just let them try to ‘get along’ with each other? The worm bin has leaf litter newspaper and old fruit, melon and corn cobs for it’s menu.

BSFL and worms prefer different environments. BSFL thrive in warmer conditions. BSF will continue to lay their eggs in your worm bin unless you enclose it with screen or bring it indoors. Of course the BSF will stop laying eggs when the weather gets cool, and that is the period when your worms will do best.

Quote:
While I was cleaning out the worm composter bin of the BSFL, there must have been an attractant present because swarms of flies and bees descended on the leftovers as I was trying to sort out larvae and worms. Is this common? I had to get a fan and plug it in outdoors in order to continue working because they were flying in my eyes and ears etc. The last time I had so many insects was when I ran over a hornets nest with the tractor and they chased me over hill and dale til I got indoors.
I very much doubt that the flies that you encountered while cleaning your worm bin were BSF. Other fly species are aggressively attracted to rotting waste unless that waste is densely colonized with BSFL. I find that bees are often attracted to melon and other fruit scraps, especially when it's fermented.

Quote:
I flood the chamber twice a week, but for how long should the water be left in the chamber, an hour, over night? Let me know. Not all BSFL seem to migrate above the water level and I don’t want to kill any prematurely.
The main reason for flooding the BSF composter is to encourage the dark mature BSFL to migrate out of the main box. Flooding the unit for several minutes is usually enough. I don't flood my composters completely, I flood them to just below the top of the waste. The larvae do not drown easily, and if you don't flood above the top of the waste they can always climb up and get air. BSFL can spend hours submerged and often do. My composter won't drain completely, and it's very common for me to observe larvae submerging themselves in the liquid that remains at the bottom.

Quote:
Lastly, I don’t seem to be generating many BSFL which migrate into the plastic bag attached to the unit, It has been three weeks now and I have only two or three in the bag, there are no obstructions to the ramp. The worm composter had many more larvae which seemed to gather in the corners and were even trying to ramp out at a 90 degree angle. I think they may have originated within the leaf litter mulch or some composted corn cobs left over after canning corn.
Under optimal conditions BSFL spend three weeks as light colored juveniles, before turning into the dark colored mature larvae which will migrate into the harvest bag. Temperature is the biggest factor, and under cooler conditions it can take months for the larvae to mature. Not all larvae laid on the same day will mature at the exact same rate, and I expect that you will begin to see more mature larvae in your harvest bag over the next few weeks.

Quote:
Should I add the BSFL from the worm bin into the BSFL unit since I don’t seem to have much of a population in the BSFL unit that are interested in climbing the ramp. I have fed them corn grain soaked in water for a week and corn cobs broken into pieces (the worms really like those). I have some beef I was going to try to feed them this week along with some old fruit which has aged abit in the bin. I do not want to overfeed them and potentially develop anaerobic conditions.
I would move as many BSFL from the worm bin to the BSF unit as is convenient. At the following link you will find a simple method for collecting juvenile larvae: LINK You can also simply add a piece of slightly damp bread or similar waste to the worm bin, and remove it at the point where a large number of BSFL are eating it. I usually have a container handy because the larvae will start dropping off of the food as soon as you pick it up.

It's a good idea to maintain a few pounds of rotting waste in a new BSF composter. This is meant to attract BSF females for egg laying. Since you have a BSF coming to your worm bin already you should see eggs in your BSF unit almost immediately. The key is in keeping the most attractive waste in the BSF composter. The most attractive waste is that which is the most fermented.

I have always advised people to avoid adding meats to a new BSF unit because it is a very powerful attractant for other fly species like blow flies, and it isn't a good bait for BSF. Also, I don't like the idea of meat sitting around in a hot humid environment for several days, and if you don't already have a dense BSFL colony it won't be eaten quickly.

Quote:
Can the harvested larvae been dehydrated or frozen or both for future use to feed chickens? How long do they keep in the dehydrated form as the lipid content may yield rancidity from oxidation over time. This seems to be a limiting factor when dehydrating high fatty foods, the shelf life is limited.
I haven't stored larvae so I can't speak from experience. Freezing seems the likely choice to me. There is some discussion about this on the forum, but there isn't a lot of information at this time.

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


Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:43 pm
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:16 pm
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Post Re: Composter customer questions via email
Have my completed set up and the start up kit installed. I have now found fruit flies and as far as I know their larvae. Will this interfere with the hatching of the bsf eggs and their development? There might be house fly larvae also, not sure yet. Any answer to this post would be greatly appreciated.


Danny


Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Composter customer questions via email
Hi Danny, thanks for joining the forum, and thanks for getting a bio-composter.

Other species are always part of establishing a black soldier fly larva colony. In my opinion fruit flies are the least problematic to have initially, but all species will be eliminated or vastly reduced once the BSF become dense. The others won't hurt your BSF eggs/larvae.

You're in Florida, correct? We are rich with BSF in FL, so it's just a matter of time before you get some local BSF females laying in your composter.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

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


Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:53 pm
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