Birds / Composting

Composting with Black Soldier Fly Larvae!

BlackSoldierFlyLarvae_LocalComposters_JPEG_325Forget the “ick” factor, these strange looking, slow moving “critters” in your compost bin or compost pile may be doing more work than you realize and they are harmless!

“Black Soldier Fly” larvae eat huge amounts of raw material – including  veggies, fat, meat, slaughterhouse remnants – and convert it into compost.  They are voracious and can eat as much as twice their own weight per day!

In no stage of their lives do they bite (humans or animals) and they are used to convert waste of all sorts into usable compost all over the world.  In addition to composting all manner of “organic” materials into compost, they are a very high source of protein – birds love them!

They even out-compete regular house flies in the “stuff” they eat, so if you have farm animals and their “poo” this can actually reduce regular flies in your barnyard.

Many people are finding the “Black Soldier Fly” larvae are far better composters than red worms, because they are not at all picky about what they eat.  Other than bones, thick ligaments and fur, they pretty much will eat ALL your table scraps.  (Not that we normally have fur on our tables!)

Is my compost bin for the “Red worm” or “Soldier Flies”?  If you have discovered these strange looking larvae in your red worm compost bin, you have a choice of whether to allow them to contiue doing your compost work, or trying to convert your bin back to a “red worm” bin only.

But, if you want to “rid” your compost bin of the flies, you’ll have to insure that it is completely sealed off so the adult flies can’t return to lay their eggs in it, first.  The fly larvae will attempt to leave your bin right before they go into their pupae stage, so, you can experiment with creating a 45″ ramp into a vertical bucket to sort them out.  (Check it frequently so you can give them to the birds.)

Otherwise, just let ’em “do their thing” and you’ll still get the benefits of their rapid composting activity.

For more info:

Black Soldier Fly Blog:   http://blacksoldierflyblog.com/

NPR Protein From Flies:  http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/09/19/223728061/making-food-from-flies-its-not-that-icky

OSU Extension:   http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/big-maggots-your-compost-theyre-soldier-fly-larvae

[Photo:  Marian N.]

 

 

 

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