Saturday, February 14, 2015

Project 365 #48 Bugs Eat My Garbage

I had a cold compost bin where I put all my compostable kitchen trash and it got a little on the 'wet' side.  It was a little worrisome and I thought I'd have to dump it, let it dry and start over, then I saw these little wormy things crawling in it.  Thank goodness my friend had just been telling me about Black Soldier Flies (BSF) and yes, I had them!

Since then they have been eating our kitchen garbage, and unlike a compost pile you never have to do anything, just make sure the container stays moist enough.  They do not like carbonaceous material so you don't have to worry about that.  Another thing you don't have to worry about is odor, once you get it going the food just goes away in 24-48 hours and doesn't have a chance to rot.  As a matter of fact, our smells pretty great, right now it smells like coffee and grapefruit peels.  You can put in meat, bones, grease, garlic, onions, and citrus, things that a normal compost pile doesn't particularly appreciate.  You never have to touch them if you don't like crawly things, but I scoop out some for my friend's chickens now and then.

We compost kitchen trash, but you can use them as a septic system for ickier things, too, like animal manure. For centuries they've been known as the Privy Fly, the larvae fed at the bottom of outhouses to keep down the refuse and repel harmful flies.  Keep in mind that they are not harmful to humans because their life cycle is;

  • Adults which fly and have no mouth parts so they do not feed, their only purpose is to lay eggs.
  • Eggs
  • Larvae which crawl around, eat rotting organic matter.  They mature and crawl out of the moist 'food' to find soil to pupate and grow into adults.

There's a mountain of information on Google and YouTube for attracting and maintaining a Black Soldier Fly population, just be aware that Black Soldier Flies are plentiful in Texas and you probably won't need any more bait than a wet compost bucket with a lid that has a hole into which adult females can fly and lay their eggs.  It's useful to find a  way to keep them cool in the summer and not freeze in the winter.  You can go real fancy and make a special bucket or box so that the larvae can harvest themselves into a container, or real simple like ours.  It's cracked on the bottom and that's the drainage hole.

Black Soldier Fly, Wikipedia
Beneficials In The Garden, BSF
Black Soldier Fly Blog

Our Bucket

These grapefruit peels went in yesterday

Here's a video I took of them in action