The Black Soldier Fly is an amazing creature. It is not the pesky fly that you are always swatting away from your body or food. It does not bite or sting. As an actual fly, it only lives a 5-8 days. It does not eat anything during that short time so you wont find it at your picnic table, it simply seeks out to mate! Once they mate and lay eggs, their life cycle ends. It is the larva of the Black Soldier Fly that is the miracle worker.
I will never forget the first time I saw Black Soldier Fly Larvae. I completely freaked out. It looks like an enormous house fly maggot but with a hard shell. Much like a large meal worm. I came inside and immediately started Googling to find out what it was. Turns out, its a compost bin blessing!
Soldier Fly Larva have massive jaws that can consume many types of organic waste. From manure, heaps of compost, algae, mold, plant matter, and dead animal matter. Soldier Fly Larva can consume many things before they have time to decay which helps reduce in bad odors. What they leave behind is wonderful fertile compost that can be used in the garden.
Black Soldier Flies are very easy to attract to your compost bin. All I did was leave my bin in the yard. I kept adding more material to the bin as I had it. One day I decided to give my material a little stir and that is when I discovered the creatures! Black Soldier fly females are attracted to decaying matter so they will naturally find your compost bin to lay their eggs. One female Black Soldier Fly can lay as many as 500 eggs near your compost bin. The eggs take 4-21 days to hatch. The Soldier fly has 4 life cycles - egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
You can certainly make a fancy system but I have found the plastic bins work just fine. You do not have to turn the compost with Soldier flies as they aerate the compost themselves by digging tunnels as they eat. As the compost becomes more liquid the common pest fly is less likely to lay its eggs there due to an unsuitable environment. Therefore helping reduce the pest fly population!
I place a lid loosely over my bin to keep it shaded and keep out too much rain. Its good to keep your bin in the shade and the compost slightly wet (wet sponge-like) but not swimming in water. I recommend drilling several drain holes in the bottom of your bin in case of accidental rain getting in it. You can even get fancy and install some plastic plumbing tubing with vent holes in the bottom of your bucket that drains excess water for you. Placing a jar under the holes or tubing can lead to some very strong compost tea. Make sure and dilute it thoroughly before using!
You can use all types of organic wastes in your compost bin. Coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, yard trimmings and tea leaves are good examples. If you use a lot of dry yard cuttings be sure to cut them into smaller pieces and add a little water to soften them up.
Having several plastic bins is perfect for having a new supply of ready to go compost. You could fill a bin for months due to the fact Soldier Fly Larva can reduce the waste to a fraction of its original size. Instead fill one bin up for a few weeks, then start a new one while the first bin becomes ready to use compost. Using bins you can carry when half full will make taking it to the garden and dumping it easy.
Soldier Fly Maggots are very high in protein and fat which make them great chicken and fish feed. You can place a ramp in your bin that leads into a jar or can. As the Soldier Fly Larva are ready to go to their next life cycle, pupa, they will leave the compost bin looking for a place to burrow in the ground while they go through metamorphosis and turn into a fly. Many larva will find your ramp, climb up it and fall into your collection jar. Its a good idea to leave a few behind on the ground so they can become new adult soldier flies to continue your cycle.
Almost finished compost. Black Soldier Flies do a quick job of taking care of your scraps into great fertilizer! The Mature larvae make great fish and chicken feed. Natures fast way of turning organic trash into treasure!