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 Indoor Breeding with Arduino 
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Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:59 am
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Location: Perth, Western Australia
Post Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Despite not having posted in a while, I have not been idle over the Australian winter. As the weather dropped off three months ago my soldier fly bins have gone dormant, but the weather in Perth is not cold enough that pupae would find it too cold to survive. I realized that if I could breed the flies indoors, I would be able to transplant pupae into outdoor bins and have year-round production. Furthermore the local songbirds, of which there are many, have discovered a new, tasty form of protein that seems to always materialize around my BSF bins. I realized that it was time for me to get a little more involved.

My answer is an indoor breeding unit!
Image
Construction is pine and flywire, with MDF boards for the floor.
It has wheels, and i have insulated it with an emergency reflective blanket and packing foam. A windshield reflector also comes in handy.

Inside I have placed a pickle-jar with coffee grounds and cardboard placed above, as well as a tub full of pre-pupae and soil.
Image
For lighting I am using a 25 watt Exo-Terra Tropical UVB light and a 15 watt NEC mini flourescent tube in a ballast.
Image
I have also bought and atached an arduino uno and DHt22 temperature and humidity sensor which sits inside the enclosure.
Image
I have just started logging temperature overnight with the arduino, and preliminarily I can see it hovers at about 30 degrees celcius and 30% humidity at the top of the box. I will need to find a good way of increasing that humidity at least to the ambient levels in my house which is about 60-70%.


Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:28 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
I've tried to solve the humidity problem with a soil-floor. First I had to reinforce and waterproof the MDF board base, then I had to add soil and grubs (plus a few plants for good measure). I've had a few escapees, and I've also added some shredded paper in a corner for a more secluded space, but the real test will be how to keep the soil moist. I have ordered this humidifier online, and it should arrive this week. Then I will sit it in a jar and split the USB cable into a simple power cable for the arduino to power according to whatever the humidity sensor reads.

Image


Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:01 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Soil floor led to many escapees, not good for an indoor unit. I have since changed to a steep sided jar. After restraining myself and not messing with them for one weekeend, I have 4 adults with a mix of genders. I suspect it's not moist enough for them to breed at the moment however.

Ambient temperature of 22.50 degrees centigrade near the bottom and 30 degrees at the top near the lights. Relative humidity of 70%.


Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:10 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
You're right escapees being bad news indoors. I ended up keeping my bin inside a netting bag to collect the BSFL that made it 'over the wall'.

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Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:59 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Hi all,
Big changes have been made but still no success in actually getting them to mate. Firstly, I have finally finished the arduino aspect of the climate control. In theory when the relative humidity exceeds 85% the humidifier will turn off. Unfortunately it seems as if the humidifier has some internal problems that cause it to be intermittent even when fully powered, and even at full bore it's unclear that it would be able to raise the internal humidity past 85%.

First picture is the setup in it's entirety. I have since added a 15watt heat cord, a humidifer, soil floor, a plant germination tray (too confuse the landlord), and a micro SD card holster for recording temperature measurements.

Image

The second image shows the arduino setup - the red thing allows me to use the humidifer, which ran of USB power at 5 volts and 500mA as opposed to the 5v and 40mA of an arduino pin.

Image

There are plants growing in the soil floor of the enclosure, which is waterproofed, and I hope that eventually they will also serve to increase the humidity and provide platforms for the flies.

Image

I would estimate there are around 20 adults of varying genders in my enclosure. As the lights are near the door they seem to enjoy congregating there, which makes doing anything extremely risky.

Image

They wont even mate with the lights on full and indirect sunlight, and I cannot get direct sunlight thanks to the two new buildings in my neighborhood. I have ordered a photon sensor thing that will tell me the UV intensity inside my enclosure and hopefully that of a sunny day as well. In the end I may just have to buy more lighting - but I don't want to buy more than I have to! I have been using used coffee pods as an attractant but so far no takers.


Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:42 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Aussiemoo what are the lumen ratings on the lights you're using?

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Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:01 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
So the 25 watt Exo-Terra Tropical Reptile UVB Light is as follows:

Image

I would estimate most of my flies are within 10 inches of the light most of the time, some maybe at 24 inches. I guess that would mean that they get 600 lux, but when they take to the air they would be around 4-6 inches away from the light, so it should jack up to 3650-2000 lumens.

The other light is an 15 watt NEC Quad Phos Natural Light flourescent tube (closest I could find below):

Image

This says it has a Luminous Flux of 1020lm.

Now we have a units problem here, as Luminous Flux (lm) and Illuminance (lux) are different.

Image

Now the literature we have to work with, namely "Tomberlin JK, Sheppard DC. Factors influencing mating and oviposition of black soldier flies (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) in a colony. Journal Entomological Science. 2002a;37:345–352." shows the below:

Image

Those units are in PPF or photosynthetic photon flux. This website (http://www.apogeeinstruments.co.uk/conversion-ppf-to-lux/) says that 200 PPF is equivalent to 14,800lx in a flourescent tube. Direct sunlight at noon is 120,000 lux, which would be over 2000 PPF and "Shade illuminated by entire clear blue sky, midday" according to wikipedia is 20,000lxwhich is about 600 PPF. However from above you can see that my light is only 3,650 lux when the flies are practically touching it, which is not a good sign (seems bloody bright to me). A calculator I found online says that a 30cm radius from my 1020lm NEC flourescent tube should get about 900lx, 3600 at 15cm, and 8116 at 10cm. so when you add that to my exo-terra bulb, which is 405lx, 1619lx, and 3644lx respectively at those distances according to a calculator (http://www.rapidtables.com/calc/light/lumen-to-lux-calculator.htm) you only get 11760lx at best (and that would be when flying in between the two lights. Not exactly 14,800 is it? Top of the line Philips screw-on LEDs are (http://au.rs-online.com/web/p/gls-led-lamps/8207997/) 1521 lumens which gives about 1344 lux at 30 cm, 5379 at 15cm, and 12103 at 10cm, but they cost $80 EACH. These ones on eBay for $10 each say they're 1,800lm http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/381186297873. Combined, those two would be 2900lm, which when added to what I have gets me about 4300lm in total. 4300lm at 30cm is still a pathetic 3,800lx, but manages to hit 15,000 lx at 15cm. The idea that three 100w incandescent equivalents and one 60w equivalent all concentrated 15cms away from my eyeballs would be the same as lying in the shade on a clear blue day doesn't really jive with my...experience of life, but unless anyone can point out why I should go with CFLs over LEDs I might buy a twin pack of the ebay ones.


Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:30 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
In that same paper, Jeffrey Tomberlin talks about infertile eggs, until they cut a window in the room, exposing them to sunlight.
What do you think of Lantohery's lights, and his fridge which is only 45 cm, top to bottom?


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Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:01 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Hi pete, I like Lanhotery's setup. I have been doing some snooping on e-Bay, and I can see that best bang for buck on illuminance would be an LED with a driver, which are often pre-packaged as LED flood lights with reflectors and housing. Putting one on the top of the enclosure with the glass plate faced down would be a great setup. Lanhotery's design also requires sunlight however, and I'm thinking that it must be direct sunlight, because I've put mine out facing our window plenty of mornings and afternoons and nothing comes of it.

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/insect_feed_could_be_the_next_frontier_in_animal_agriculture/ this article with a fellow at Duke University claims to have gotten an 80% breeding success rate. From the pictures you can clearly see that he is using visible light, and in the article is claims he is also using ultraviolet light.

Next week I should receive my Illuminance sensor http://www.adafruit.com/products/439 which can read both visible and UV wavelengths. Pete I think that an arduino and sensors would be well within the realm of proficiency for a technically minded guy like you. Perhaps you would consider getting one as well - It would only set you back $15 total for the microcontroller and sensor. That way we could start to get an edge over these big universities. Citizen science is a powerful thing.

edit:

Looks like I missed a more recent study
Quote:
In this study, it was demonstrated that a 500watt, 135 μ?mol m-2s-1 light intensity quartziodine lamp could stimulate mating and oviposition, and the subsequent larval and pupal development times were comparable to results produced under natural sunlight. In contrast, the 160 μ?mol m-2s-1 light intensity rare-earth lamp did not stimulate mating.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3029228/

In this newer experiment, their quartz iodine lamp had no UV component, and no sunlight either - but still it got as many eggs as their outside control. This is what led me to consider LEDs instead of CFL. However as I said above that Duke Uni fellow says you DO need UV, unless it's a bum steer :o


Fri Jul 24, 2015 5:09 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Yeah, it's a tricky issue, with dozens of unknown factors. I just know this:
I've had reasonable success with a setup similar to Lantohery's, even with no natural sunlight.
He was using about 9,000 lumens in there, which is way more than your setup.
I'd say the jury is still out on UV lamps. If you google around, you'll see that Halogens (Quartz-Iodine) and ordinary supermarket CFL's also put out plenty of UV.
I'm sure it will vary from brand to brand. They also say that glass and perspex will block out almost all UV rays.
It would be great to see what your Illuminance sensor tells you.
What does he mean by an 80% success rate? Does it mean 80% of his flies lay eggs, or does it mean that 80% of his egg clusters hatch into grubs ...?? I'd say about 70% of my egg clusters turned out to be fertile.


Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:00 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Great conversation guys. The lighting aspect has always been confusing for me due to the different units of measurement. Add to that the fall off with distance ( the inverse square law?) so a bulb that works fine in a small enclosure might fail in a larger one.

PeteB wrote:
... What does he mean by an 80% success rate? Does it mean 80% of his flies lay eggs, or does it mean that 80% of his egg clusters hatch into grubs ...??
Exactly, it's hard to know what he's done here. Hopefully he'll publish his results in a scientific paper that's not behind a pay-wall.

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Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:48 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
BorealWormer wrote:
Add to that the fall off with distance ( the inverse square law?) so a bulb that works fine in a small enclosure might fail in a larger one.

There's no might about it. That same bulb will be hopeless in a larger enclosure. If you double the distance, you need 4 times the amount of light.


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Fri Jul 24, 2015 3:11 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Excellent graphic Peter. Thanks for posting it.

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


Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:44 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Thanks Pete and BW,
I think I'm slowly coming to the same conclusion. There seems to be two major schools of thought at the moment:

    1.) UV Light is an important factor in getting flies to mate - bright enclosures still need sunlight for mating, which must mean that the UV component is a trigger for mating.

    2.) Lux is king. You can breed successfully without UV wavelengths, sunlight increasing breeding success is purely due to its incredible illuminance.

With that in mind I think I have found the perfect light for the flies: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/361089191668

imagine experimenting around with all the different light settings!

Also, Pete what combination did you use to get 9,000 lumens and what was the wattage for everything?


Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:01 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Aussiemoo wrote:
Thanks Pete and BW,
I think I'm slowly coming to the same conclusion. There seems to be two major schools of thought at the moment:

1.) UV Light is an important factor in getting flies to mate - bright enclosures still need sunlight for mating, which must mean that the UV component is a trigger for mating.


Totally wrong, all of the amorphous glasses or transparent plastics block 99.9% of UVs.

Aussiemoo wrote:

2.) Lux is king. You can breed successfully without UV wavelengths, sunlight increasing breeding success is purely due to its incredible illuminance.


Totally wrong, experiments using 500-1,000W flood lights proved that lux does not regulate matings. Even a 80% of mating success is a poor result for an industrial scale operation as the Industry needs 99% success.

Aussiemoo wrote:

With that in mind I think I have found the perfect light for the flies: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/361089191668

imagine experimenting around with all the different light settings!



I should add

3.) What the sunlight is? As Einstein wrote: "It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do"

The Duality Wave/Particle Theory reminds me the contradictory results of all the experiments performed to find out the characteristics of the light that regulates mating behavior of the BSF.

Or even

4,) Is the Color Rendering Index the clue for understanding the mating behavior? Or probably this is related with my point 3.)?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index


Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:54 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Alfredo, I don’t know where you got your information about UV, but it’s not true that simply having a pane of glass or plastic can shield 100% of UV. There are three types of UV light in the spectrum of 400nm and below: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Most glasses and plastics will block UVB, which is the most harmful to human skin, and which summarily gets most of the press. However:
Quote:
UVA rays account for 90 to 95% of UV radiation that reaches the earth…UVA is present equally throughout the daylight hours and throughout the seasons, and can penetrate cloud and glass.

http://www.geglobalresearch.com/blog/the-difference-between-uva-and-uvb-rays

Furthermore, as we are interested in insects, we would be interested in analogues for UV and mating behaviour, as well as what wavelengths of light were involved:
Quote:
Butterflies receive ultraviolet signals by utilizing a special photoreceptor pigment in the butterfly eye. The butterfly eye is similar to the average insect eye in that it is composed of numerous ommatidia. Each butterfly ommatidium contains nine photoreceptors with generally each photoreceptor utilizing a single visual pigment.[6] A UV sensitive visual pigment is responsible for a butterfly’s ability to detect UV light and responds maximally to ultraviolet light at approximately 350 nm.[6] Therefore, a visual pigment that responds to ultraviolet light is the mechanism behind ultraviolet light perception.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_communication_in_butterflies#Sex_recognition
350nm is in the UVA range, the type which can readily penetrate plastic and glass, and is produced by my CFL light.
Quote:
UVA is ultraviolet radiation between 400-320nm wavelength and UVB is between 320-290nm wavelength.

http://www.geglobalresearch.com/blog/the-difference-between-uva-and-uvb-rays

As for the butterflies:
Quote:
Ultraviolet light is not only an activator of male sexual behavior: Its absence may also stop an approaching male and his attempt to copulate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_communication_in_butterflies#Sex_recognition

With this in mind I do not think that is it prudent to entirely dismiss UV light, especially when one of the top entomologists at a major US university has specifically told a reporter that he is experimenting with UV light to improve mating success rates for BSF.

As for your second claim, that lux alone cannot lead to matings, I would draw your attention to the article that I referenced previously -> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3029228/
Quote:
Adults in the quartz-iodine lamp treatment had a mating rate of 61% of those in the sunlight control.

The quartz-iodine lamp treatment had no external sunlight, and also no UV wavelengths (but lots in the infrared):

Image

This means that mating is still possible without UV or anything contained in natural sunlight aside from the visible light spectrum. Since I currently have flies in an enclosure with the right temperature, humidity and some visible light in the correct wavelengths, the difference must be lux.
As for CRI, My understanding is that CRI is simply the degree of faithfulness with which artificial light to mimics isolated wavelengths of natural light. If we knew which wavelengths that the flies liked in natural sunlight and wanted to mimic that artificially then CRI would play a role. However all I want to do at this stage is get a single indoor egg cluster, and for that I will need either lux or UVA.


Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:00 am
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Aussiemoo wrote:
... Since I currently have flies in an enclosure with the right temperature......


What the "right" the temperature is for you?


Sat Jul 25, 2015 2:31 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
~28*C increasing to about 30*C where they fly around.


Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:29 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Aussiemoo wrote:
~28*C increasing to about 30*C where they fly around.


Do you think that the sunlight warms up the body of the adults?


Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:48 pm
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Post Re: Indoor Breeding with Arduino
Oh certainly. I took them out for a bit of natural light yesterday and they immediately began to get active. They were far more active than under any lighting setup - even the 500 watt halogen spotlight that I 'rented' from the store (and then returned in its packaging). There's something in sunglight that really gets them going. I could see the males trying to tackle the females as they scrambled all over the screen door. It's not just their flying either, even their cleaning processes and twitching speeds increase with heat.


Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:33 pm
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