Life Cycle of a Black Soldier Fly

Black Soldier Fly Life Cycle
Black Soldier Fly Life Cycle

Life Cycle of a Black Soldier Fly is quite interesting for a little fly with such an ability to devour any rotting matter it comes across into amazing leachate and Soldier Fly Frass that will transform your soil and your plants.

I have been experimenting with these amazing little critters since 2009 when I first started testing the Compot. I barely knew what they were back then let alone understand how amazing they are and what they can do.

The Black Soldier Fly seems to be attracted only to rotting matter. You never find then hanging around your Bar-B-Q or landing on your Sunday lunch. If you do find one in your house he has most likely followed the scent of some waste travelling on the air or you have something rotten in your kitchen. Or perhaps they found a short cut through your kitchen on the way to their real destination.

They have no mouth as such but are able to suck in nectar or water in order to survive long enough to find a mate. Nor do they carry disease as they don’t regurgitate food. They don’t scurry around on your skin like house files making it easy to observe them if they happen to land on you.

Laying their Larvae

Soldier Flies Laying Larvae
Soldier Flies Laying Larvae

When the Soldier Flies hatch as a mature Fly they fly around looking for a partner, they lay their larvae and then die. Such is the life of a Soldier Fly. But the cycle is just beginning. They lay hundreds of eggs close to rotting matter in different environments. If you are using a Compot they will lay their larvae in whatever covering you have on top of your Compot Lid. The tiny larvae will find their way into the Compot and start devouring your waste, increasing in size exponentially so within a week you will see big fat larvae that were once tiny threads smaller than a grain of rice,

Just laid Soldier Fly Larvae
Soldier Fly Larvae

They continue to consume your waste producing a leachate which is essentially Ammonia NH3 (Hydrogen and Nitrogen) that leaches out into the soil feeding your plants instantly. Instead of castings that worms produce, the Soldier Fly Larvae produce a by product called “Frass” which is richer than worm castings if you are feeding your larvae ALL your kitchen waste inside your Compot. This Frass builds up over time inside the Compot allowing you to harvest it to put back into your garden or make liquid fertiliser with by putting a hand full in a bucket of water to release the nutrients.

Pupal Stage

Black Soldier Fly Casings
Black Casings of the Soldier Fly

Once the larvae have reached the pupation stage they bury out into the soil and transform inside a hard black casing which they will eventually emerge from to start the whole process over again.

An interesting tit bit is the larvae can slow their growth to last up to 9 months.  This is why I still have larvae in my Compots over winter. They are hibernating ready to spring into action as soon as the weather warms up. If you happen to plant your pots in winter you will find your pots will be slow till they build up bacteria, garden critters and of course the Soldier Flies. When Summer comes and the Soldier Flies find your pots you will see a huge difference in how fast your pots empty. Once they find your waste they will always come back. Best part is they are free and everywhere except in extreme cold climates and extreme hot climates.

An interesting bit of info I found out from a company called Goterra that are researching the use of Black Soldier Fly Larvae for livestock feed, is that:

“For every ton of food waste eaten by the Black Soldier Fly Larvae there is one ton less methane and CO2 going into the environment.” 

That has to be good for the environment.  Whereas your waste in council tips creates methane (because of the massive piles of waste) which is 10 times worse than CO2.    You too can help the environment by disposing of ALL your kitchen waste in your own backyard by planting a Compot or two

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetia_illucens

With in this link is also some fascinating info on parasitic worms with a link in the “Did you know” Section.

Soldier flies have not been found to be intermediate hosts for parasitic worms whereas Red Worms can be. Something to consider if you raise Chickens. See not on Red Worms below

I found the parasitic worm info especially interesting.  Particularly the part about the hook worm – often referred to as the  “germ of laziness” in children.    Read on, in the “Did you know” Section below. The next link below basically confirms what I have been saying about soldier flies in my talks.

http://www.blacksoldierflyfarming.com/home/faq

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-szMDaqqFiY – video of active larvae in Kate’s garden.

It is also interesting to note that Wikipedia claims the soldier fly larvae prevent house flies and blowflies from laying eggs in waste inhabited with Black Soldier Fly Larvae.  I personally have not found this to always be the case, as I have found maggots in the Compots along with the Soldier Fly Larvae. (And I tested the theory)  Once the house flies turn into flies they seem to want to get away from the Soldier Flies really quickly at that point, and I am guessing they don’t like the Ammonia smell that the Soldier Flies produce as they devour the waste. House flies will definitely lay their Larae on waste that has Soldier Flies on it if it is out in the open where the smell is dissipated and if the Soldier Fly Larvae have not yet produced the ammonia leachate.

Soldier Fly Larvae and Maggots

Small Compost bin
Compot and Lid

Inside your Compot if you happen to get maggots that turn into house flies (can happen but not as a general rule) they can’t wait to get out of the Compot and if they can’t get out they die and become further compost. But I don’t mind the maggots – they are all part of the decomposition process, as long as they don’t get out of the Compot and invade my house. And you don’t want to be breading up house flies so you should keep your lid covered adequately to keep house flies from getting inside your Compots.

On the lid of the new stock of Compots, I have removed the diamond shapes around the lid to reduce the likely hood of the house flies getting in or out of the Compot and instead they become compost as they die. This alteration has also reduced the number of lizard that get into the Compot for a feed but can’t get out as the walls are too slippery for them to climb, and I hate seeing them trapped even though they have lots of food to live on. Once the food is all gone they have nothing to eat and they too become compost unless they find a way out through the side holes if the surrounding soil loose enough for them to bury through. The lizards are better kept in the garden – not in the Compot.

Today’s Did You Know…?

Hookworm
Hookworms

Back in 1910, the Rockefeller Foundation introduced a campaign to fight the Hook Worm – the “Germ of Laziness” in the American South.     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitic_worm


Teachers observed: “children who were listless and dull are now active and alert; children who could not study a year ago are not only studying now, but are finding joy in learning…for the first time in their lives their cheeks show the glow of health.”

From Louisiana, a grateful school board added: “As a result of your treatment…their lessons are not so hard for them, they pay better attention in class and they have more energy…In short, we have here in our school-rooms today about 120 bright, rosy-faced children, whereas had you not been sent here to treat them we would have had that many pale-faced, stupid children”

Gapeworms
Gapeworms

Another interesting tit bit about worms

Gape Worms in Poultry

http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/poultry/helminthiasis/overview_of_helminthiasis_in_poultry.html?qt=&sc=&alt= Red worms apparently may be host to parasitic worms that can infect poultry. I found this link quite interesting on parasitic worms in poultry for those of you who raise chickens.

https://directcompostsolutions.com/composting-black-soldier-flies/

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