Meet Your Backyard Munching Machine

I was reminded recently by a neighbour of a column written some time ago regarding our friends in the compost bin.

Those of you who recycle their left-over waste as well as grass, paper and green cuttings no doubt will have seen some larvae congregating in the bin madly chomping away at the leftovers. No, they’re not maggots!

You would also have seen a black elongated fly-like creature, hovering around your bin and maybe wondered what sort of fly you have.

In most cases, this is the ‘black soldier fly’ known for their ability to devour waste. Just one square meter of BLF larvae can dispose of 15kg of waste per day.

BSF larvae have the potential of improving organic waste into a rich fertiliser and in addition is a good source of oil and protein for animal feed.

As the larvae mature, they crawl out of the bin where they can be harvested for animal feed or chicken food or even fish food.

The female black soldier fly can deposit a mass of 500 eggs, these then hatch in about four days and can grow to about 27mm in length and be up to 6mm across. They require about 14 days for their development and in that time the BSF do not need to feed but rely on the fat stored from the larval stage.

Male BSF gather to engage in competitive displays and courtship rituals. This is known as a ‘lek’ and when all together waiting for a female, this is called ‘lekking’ to entice visiting females which are surveying prospective partners. These sites are defended against other male BSF.

The black soldier fly, (Hermetia illucens) is a sleek looking fly that many may confuse as a wasp, but the big difference is that a wasp has four wings while the fly has only two and unlike the wasp does not have a stinger.

BSF are so efficient that they are able to break down bacteria in their food so much that there is no bacteria in their waste once they’ve digested it.

The larvae contain up to 43% protein and are rich in calcium and other nutrients, and are able to munch through twice their body weight every single day.

Farming black soldier flies is one of the best ways to solve the food waste problem that can’t go anywhere else.

Another unusual point about them is their ability to withstand heat and as they can eat over twice their own body weight each day, that’s equivalent to a human being eating over 1400 hot dogs every day.

Such a fascinating little guy. Lots of studies have been done around the world and it’s said that a black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans.

They binge eat and store up nutrients for a two-week life span as adults when they practically don’t eat anything at all after that.

So, the next time you go to your bin have a look at what’s happening inside, maybe you have the best munching machine around, right in your own backyard.

Till next time.

Previous Post
Next Post