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 Small Scale Indoor Breeding 
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:15 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
BorealWormer wrote:
SoCo wrote:
The huge thing is 46W fluorescent bulb, but it wasn't enough.
Any idea of the lumens and light color?

Yes, it should be:
  • color: 4100 K
  • output: 2600 lm


Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:59 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
BorealWormer wrote:
This will be of interest to those of us in the colder parts of the world and / or perhaps those wanting to raise a few BSFL to feed their reptiles.

Heather Twist lives 50 miles north of Seattle up in the hills where it’s pretty cold, dark, and rainy (her words). She has had some success in getting larvae purchased from a pet store to reproduce in her “honeymoon hotel” - a net enclosure suspended over a terrarium and placed in front of a sunny window.

See her blog Eating Off The Food Grid (link) for the details and photos.
Heather hasn't posted much about BSF lately but this old post about UV light is interesting (link). It's something to consider when selecting lighting for indoor systems:

"BSFs and ultraviolet
On another note about the BSFs ... I'm sitting here at 11:30, in the dark. The BSFs are buzzing around. I've gotten to think about this, because mostly during dark days, they just SIT. And SIT. They do nothing but conserve energy.

Yet here we are, in the dark, and they buzz.

So thinking about it ... there is this orangey, not-much-light, mercury vapor lamp in the yard. It is rather old ... over 20 years I think ... and it turns on sometime in the evening.

Googling it, it seems mercury vapor lamps give too much UV, and so nowadays they are supposed to have filters. I don't think this one has those filters. Might be why I need eyeshades to sleep ... maybe my eyes are tuned to UV too. The light seems very dim, but it certainly gets the BSFs going.

Posted 23rd November 2011 by Heather Twist"

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Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:55 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
An interesting development in my system as the larvae are pupating in the feeding/rearing tub (link). In the past normally the larvae would exit the wet tub to pupate on the drier floor of the bin. The tub has no drainage and moisture is managed by evaporation and by changing the feed stock. For example dry dog food pellets can be used to absorb excess liquids.

Larvae pupating in the tub indicates that the moisture level is to their liking :)


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Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:04 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Mike, if you haven't already seen this it might be useful:
Quote:
Optimum Humidity
Larval Stage Optimum:

“The larvae tolerate saturated conditions well but large larvae lose weight at approximately 1% per hour at 75.5% relative humidity. As expected, the rate of water loss increases with decreasing relative humidity. Smaller larvae are more susceptible to water loss, losing approximately 1.5% body weight per hour at 75.5% RH.” (1)

“Found that the maximum development rates for soldier flies in dung occurs at 70 % moisture levels.”(1)(2)


From BioSystems Design

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


Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:39 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Quote:
Optimum Humidity
Larval Stage Optimum:

“The larvae tolerate saturated conditions well but large larvae lose weight at approximately 1% per hour at 75.5% relative humidity. As expected, the rate of water loss increases with decreasing relative humidity. Smaller larvae are more susceptible to water loss, losing approximately 1.5% body weight per hour at 75.5% RH.” (1)
Those humidity levels are not fatal so the weight loss must not occur at a lineal rate (ie 100% in 100 hours).

So far in 2013 the average maximum humidity is 71.5 %. I quoted the average maximum because readings are typically taken twice daily about two hours apart just before and after plastic cover is removed and the lights are on. The maximums better reflect the steady state of the bin by ignoring the short term dips in humidity while the cover is off and the lights are on.

The average of all readings to date in 2013 is only 59.9%

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Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:12 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Hi everybody.
I'm new to the BSFL buzz and just started to experiment with breeding my own BSFL colonies. The larvaes are happily crunching through anything I chuck at them in my compost bin an the mature larvaes have already started their journey to a safer place. I have a question though: what sort of pupation environment is best for the pupation period, that is when the flies will pop out from the shell? Obviously the pupae like a dry warm place I guess, otherwise they woldn't just climb out from the compost bin, right? At the moment I have them in a small carton box filled with dry compost substrate so they can hide away but I'm a bit worried that the pupae will dry out before they will hatch into flies. The carton box is placed in an old aquarium with the top of the container covered with a mesh so that it is dry inside. Should I spray the pupae box with som water from time to time to not let it get dry out?
Could also someone tell me how long it takes for the pupae to hatch into a fly? The room temperature I have is almost constant at 25 Celsius during the day and 23 at night.


Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:10 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:
Hi everybody.
I'm new to the BSFL buzz and just started to experiment with breeding my own BSFL colonies. The larvaes are happily crunching through anything I chuck at them in my compost bin an the mature larvaes have already started their journey to a safer place. I have a question though: what sort of pupation environment is best for the pupation period, that is when the flies will pop out from the shell? Obviously the pupae like a dry warm place I guess, otherwise they woldn't just climb out from the compost bin, right? At the moment I have them in a small carton box filled with dry compost substrate so they can hide away but I'm a bit worried that the pupae will dry out before they will hatch into flies. The carton box is placed in an old aquarium with the top of the container covered with a mesh so that it is dry inside. Should I spray the pupae box with som water from time to time to not let it get dry out?
Could also someone tell me how long it takes for the pupae to hatch into a fly? The room temperature I have is almost constant at 25 Celsius during the day and 23 at night.


Dry compost should work. I use wood shavings or dump the larvae in leaf piles outdoors. No need to moisturize as long as they are in a humid environment. Emergence typically starts in about 3 weeks, but the time varies and you will see a few emerging daily for quite a long period of time.


Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:32 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:
... Should I spray the pupae box with some water from time to time to not let it get dry out?
As Tarvus mentioned it depends on the humidity. If you're in a dry climate spraying the pupae container is probably not a bad idea. There are some observations about moisture in this post (link) and the couple following it.

Quote:
... Could also someone tell me how long it takes for the pupae to hatch into a fly? The room temperature I have is almost constant at 25 Celsius during the day and 23 at night.
It varies but about a month is a good average.

Is your system indoors?

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:12 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Hi BorealWormer,

Yes my system is indoor although I plan to place the breeding box outside in a greenhouse once the weather will be more stable over here. Right now the system is in one of the rooms which we use as a makeshift greenhouse for our plants and the room temp is around 23 Celsius degree but now that the temperature started to rise it is not uncommon for the mercury to stop at 30 C and in the summer at 47 C. The climate is dry with scorching sun so I rather spray the pupation box a few times in a week.

I spotted another thing with my compost bin: the larvaes were all happy and active for the last 10 days since I got them but today I was shocked that the whole colony almost paused in their activity, dug deep not moving much during the day. The compost bin is mostly closed, kept in the warm room with contstant temp. I mostly fed them with flash of orange, pepper, kiwi, potato, cucumber and other vegetable scraps we have form the kitchen. First I thought that it might be the moisture in the compost as the smell reminded me of an acidic rabbit manure, urine but am not sure if that's normal or not. The compost they live in also looked very moist so I mixed in some less moist compost substrate. I also spot a larvae which has "drilled" itself into the piece of a potato and seemingly not moving at all - can this be normal?
Later today in the evening the larvaes seem "waken up" and being active again so my guts tell me it might just be that the surrounding temp was too high (28 Celsius ) and to their like for feeding.

Since the BSFL arrived I already got 4 flies hatched but after my experiment they all died except one. The experiment was to place them in a smaller 5 liter container but they seemed not to like it even with a halogen lighting.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:12 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:
... I spotted another thing with my compost bin: the larvaes were all happy and active for the last 10 days since I got them but today I was shocked that the whole colony almost paused in their activity, dug deep not moving much during the day. ... can this be normal?
There has been some speculation that lack of ventilation might cause this. If the larvae are in a tub or pail it can trap any gases produced by decomposition of the feed stock and deprive them of oxygen

Quote:
Later today in the evening the larvae seem "waken up" and being active again so my guts tell me it might just be that the surrounding temp was too high (28 Celsius ) and to their like for feeding.
That's well within the comfort range for BSFL so I don't think that was the cause.

Quote:
The experiment was to place them in a smaller 5 liter container but they seemed not to like it even with a halogen lighting.
One design I've seen that makes a lot of sense is to provide enough room and roosts (shelves, platforms, plants ect.) at different proximity to the light to allow the flies to select their comfort level.

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Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:30 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:
Later today in the evening the larvaes seem "waken up" and being active again so my guts tell me it might just be that the surrounding temp was too high (28 Celsius ) and to their like for feeding.



I doubt it is high ambient temp causing the lethargy. My experience has been that high temps actually increase activity and can lead to mass migrations of immature larvae when things get too hot for their comfort. I've had colonies of BSF adult flies and larvae thriving in a captive environment (greenhouse tent) that routinely had daytime ambient temps of 130F. Bin temps may have even been higher.

I know the research says those temps are lethal, but that's not what I have seen first hand.

I wonder if they are cooling off at night and becoming lethargic and it's late afternoon/evening before the substrate becomes warm enough again for them to resume activity?


Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:46 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
BorealWormer -you might just be right about the oxygen starvation. To be honest the tub I use for the composting process and which has the worms in it has a very tight lid. I do open the bin regularly during the day but I think it might make sense about the oxygen starvation especially if I think about the "acidic smell" - could be that the traped gas produced by the decomposition of the food caused it. I might just drill a couple of bigger holes and cover it with a mesh and see if that helps.

Tarvus - I would be surprised if that was a temps problem, as I had the worms being active for the last 10 days in the same tub in the same room with a constant temps of 25C during day and 23C at night - and these are room temps not the compost bin's.

My dad has a greenhouse at his place but in the summer the temps and the humidity just makes it impossible to breath while inside, so I guess it might not be usable as a BSFL base. Will experiment a bit once I got the colony backed up as I only have around 100 worms.

My current setup is an old glass terrarium 50x30x25 cm with a mesh top but I'm in the middle of making something bigger in the next 3 weeks while the pupae not hatched into flies. By that time it should also be already warm outside with a min. of 25 Celsius degree.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:25 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:

My current setup is an old glass terrarium 50x30x25 cm with a mesh top but I'm in the middle of making something bigger in the next 3 weeks while the pupae not hatched into flies. By that time it should also be already warm outside with a min. of 25 Celsius degree.


BSF are photophobic. If you have them in a glass terrarium I bet they are burrowing down to hide from daylight and at night, in a darkened room, they become active. You just notice the activity when you turn the light on. To test this, try leaving the light on for a while at night then check back later to see if they burrowed down to hide again! :)


Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:56 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Tarvus I forgot to mention that I have two separate systems: a plastic tub with a tight lid which serves as a composting bin with the worms in it and a second "breeding" glass terrarium with a mesh top where I place in the mature pupaes to hatch into flies and for the flies to mate and lay the eggs. The terrarium has a small carton container section in it with dry compost substrate where the pupae are housed until they hatched into flies. There is another wet compost section for the flies to lay the eggs. I've done this as my reading on the breeding BSFL was that the pupae don't like a wet, humid environment hence they always move upward from a compost bin to find a dry section.
I just cut a couple of holes on the compost bin lid covering them with mesh to ensure there is air intake and the worms won't starve of oxygen. There might be something true on the temps as well, as the worms always seem to be more active in the evening in the compost bin. It seems to be a bit weird though that a 2 Celsius degree (25C afternoon, 23C early morning) temp difference could cause such a drop in the worms' activity.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:58 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:
... I just cut a couple of holes on the compost bin lid covering them with mesh to ensure there is air intake and the worms won't starve of oxygen. There might be something true on the temps as well, as the worms always seem to be more active in the evening in the compost bin. It seems to be a bit weird though that a 2 Celsius degree (25C afternoon, 23C early morning) temp difference could cause such a drop in the worms' activity.
By 'worms' you mean larvae in this paragraph?

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Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:54 am
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Yes I mean the larvae. Third day in a row they just do the same: sort of dug deep during the day and only start feeding in the evening.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:05 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
bb98 wrote:
Yes I mean the larvae.
Thanks. It's best to not interchange those terms (larvae & worms) as lots of folks also do vermicomposting and some do both.

Quote:
... Third day in a row they just do the same: sort of dug deep during the day and only start feeding in the evening.
Don't know what to add to what has already been said. Hopefully it's not a sign that your colony is in distress.

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Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:26 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
What is the shortest time frame between crawl-off and hatching into adults? May I assume that the time varies according to conditions?

Sue


Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:08 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Tarvus wrote:
... Three weeks as larvae after hatching and three weeks pupation before emergence! My 7 week life span estimate is right on schedule! ...
(link)

Indoors I see around a month but as you thought it's related to conditions (mostly temperature)

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Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:25 pm
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Post Re: Small Scale Indoor Breeding
Thanks!

Sue


Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:02 pm
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