Author Topic: My compost bin got infested with Black Soldier Fly larvae & now we are BEST PALS  (Read 3589 times)

mskyle

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This spring I got a rodent-proof tumbler composter as recommended by my city, and at first I was pretty careful about balancing my greens and browns (fortunately lots of leftover leaves from last fall) but then I ran out of leaves, and I don't get that much junk mail, but nevertheless, the compost smelled fine and seemed to be cooking down even faster. After three months of kitchen waste and as much yard waste as I could find (we have a small yard) the composter is still less than a quarter full (it reached its peak at not-quite-half-full back around the middle of July).

And then a week or two ago I noticed that the compost was... moving. Uggggghhh. So of course I tossed in some shredded newspaper and pretended like I had not seen anything. But I was worried! It seemed like... maggots. Maggots in compost is bad, right? But the compost smelled completely neutral and everything was breaking down so fast...

Well, I kept seeing the grubs but nothing bad seemed to be happening, and little internet research suggests I've acquired an extended family of Black Soldier Flies - indeed a couple of adults flew out of my bin last time I opened it up. They are gross, but wow! They can really break down some food scraps!

Apparently they will eat damn near anything, including meat and even poultry and fish bones. I threw in five ancient bananas that I found encrusted in frost at the back of the freezer this morning and I can't wait to see what my grub pals do with them. Since I live in Massachusetts (zone 6b) I'm doubtful these guys will make it through the winter (maybe not even the whole summer) unless I can keep the compost pretty hot, and I'm wary of putting animal products in the compost lest I attract rats (NO THANKS), so I'm probably not realizing the full potential of BSF. But I am a big fan!

Kwill

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This was not the story I was expecting, but I'm happy you're happy.

marty998

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The flies will actually help keep your compost warm.... because they will attract a whole living ecosystem that will thrive on  them :)

Amazing the amount of heat that can be generated by thousands of little critters.

FrugalShrew

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This is so neat! I'd only heard negative compost pile bug stories before. Really awesome to learn about a friendly bug with which we can form compost partnerships! :)

thriftyish

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Just had to respond to this - a very similar scenario unfolded in my urban (DC) trashcan compost bin many moons ago. At the time I was living with housemates and they were SUPER grossed out by the maggots. I was too at first, but then like you I researched them. In addition to their formidable composting power, they generally do not come inside people's homes, and apparently they make the pile unsuitable for nuisances like house flies and fruit flies. Win-win-win! (also: there are some people raising these to feed chickens!)

I'm with you; soldier flies are the urban composting solution

esq

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Disgusting, yet fascinating!

TomTX

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oldtoyota

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Just had to respond to this - a very similar scenario unfolded in my urban (DC) trashcan compost bin many moons ago. At the time I was living with housemates and they were SUPER grossed out by the maggots. I was too at first, but then like you I researched them. In addition to their formidable composting power, they generally do not come inside people's homes, and apparently they make the pile unsuitable for nuisances like house flies and fruit flies. Win-win-win! (also: there are some people raising these to feed chickens!)

I'm with you; soldier flies are the urban composting solution

Fascinating. I wonder if we're "raising" soldier flies or black flies? We had flies in the internal compost bin. The bin has not made it back into the house. We now collect food scraps in a container and try to take it out every day, but that attracts ants...LOL.

Our pile is the envy of other piles. The compost piles from miles around write fan letters to my compost pile, which is hot and steamy and generous with its nutrients.