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#118781 - 05/15/08 08:39 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: rmedgar]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Randy, I'll definitely send you larvae and eggs in a few days. I'll cover the cost since you want to buy a BioPod.

Get the nursery ready!
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#118818 - 05/15/08 11:34 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
rmedgar Offline
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Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2434
Loc: S. Mississippi
Thanks. I'm ready
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#118938 - 05/16/08 10:31 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: rmedgar]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I've had a fairly good number of BSF coming to my bait boxes for the last 10 days and I've noticed some trends. House flies show up as soon as it's light out, but BSF don't arrive until close to noon. Two days ago it was hot and sunny and there was a constant BSF presence in my container. Throughout the afternoon I could find them laying eggs at any time, and usually there were 3 or 4 of them laying simultaneously. Yesterday was overcast almost all day, and there where the usual number of house flies but almost no BSF. I think I only saw one or two. This may be important because it's advised to keep your BSF container in the shade, but the adult BSF seem to prefer a sunny location to lay. The hardest part of raising BSFL is getting the colony started so I plan on putting more time into working on these types of details.

Once the BSFL are established other fly species will be repelled by an info-chemical which the BSFL produce. In the start up phase you may get house fly larvae in your container or BioPod, but it isn't really a problem. I've actually been collecting the (smaller) house fly larvae and feeding them to my Fathead minnows. I'm a little more cautious about sanitation at this point too, because with house flies coming into the container there is much more of a concern about pathogens.


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#119127 - 05/17/08 01:47 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
GW - I put the leaves in the bottom of my trashcan before adding any compost because I wanted the compost a little bit off the ground when I started. I figured that the enzymes in the bsf juice would compost them pretty quickly once it got started.

My colony has only been going a couple weeks but they're already started to really churn out the juice. I've read that this is good fertilizer. Have you ever tried it? I going to set up some trays with basil seeds.. water some, fertilize some with bsf juice and one with fish emulsion and see the results. I wonder how much to dilute the bsf juice... a few tablespoons to a gallon? maybe use the same ratio I use on the fish emulsion?

Earlier in the year I had problems with vinegar (fruit) flies around one of my compost bins. I had been trying to compost a bunch of rotting oranges from the orange tree in my front yard. The vinegar flies where up in that compost bin like nobodies business. I was even trying to figure out practical ways to catch them for fish food (there where a lot of them). Now my bsf colony is also filled with a LOT of rotting oranges.. My worms won't touch these things because they're so acidic. Even as oranges go mine are super acidic... Seville (Marmalade) Oranges. They'll make your lips tingle if you try and eat one. Almost no other fly species around. Sure you see a few hanging around but for the most part it appears they know they're not welcome.

I'm going to move my colony into the shade next to my worm bin. Like I said, they thrived in the full power of central texas sun inside a dark gray plastic trashcan (I wasn't trying to look out for the bsf at that point.) I'm guessing in the shade they'll just do that much better.

Yesterday I scored two HUGE bags of produce from a local small grocery stores dumpster. Mmmmm maggot & worm food.

Well gotta go, hope that post wasn't to rambly.

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#119135 - 05/17/08 05:22 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Hey there mrgrackle. I know that BSF show up in compost piles all the time so it shouldn't be a problem combining the two techniques. I imagine that the larvae will be fine as long as they can find food in a place that isn't too hot. My guess, however, is that the heat from the composting action will drive some of the larvae away from your pile. That isn't a problem unless you want a larger BSF colony.

I'm not very familiar with the BSFL "juice" or "tea". My colony never produced much of it if I recall correctly. My guess is that dry food scraps result in less liquid as a byproduct. Much of last year I experimented with feeding my BSF a grain diet which probably reduced the production of the juice. I would love to hear about your test results with it.
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#119164 - 05/17/08 10:41 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
Moved my bin into the shade next to my worm bin.

Also put the bin up on bricks so I could put a large saucer under it and collect the liquid.

I started 10 small pots, 4 basil seeds in each.

4 pots are given water (control)
2 pots where given full strength bsf liquid
2 pots 4 tblspn in 1 gal. water
2 pots with about a cup or so of bsf liquid in 1 gal. water

It'll take awhile for them to sprout. Maybe I'll run the same experiment tomorrow with some bush beans, they'll sprout a lot sooner then the basil.

So, how did they do with a grain diet? They've always gotten the traditional kitchen scrape compost meal from me.

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#119188 - 05/18/08 12:37 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
That's neat mrgrackle, can you take any photos and include them?

I ran into problems when I was giving the BSF only hog feed. The feed was mostly corn I think and about the size of grits. The protein content was 12% IIRC. One problem was the lack of moisture and I ended up having to add water to the feed. Another issue was that I fed too large a quantity for the size of my container. I started to get fermentation which I believe increased the temperature causing many larvae to migrate out of my container. I'll probably try this test again but I think that a cup or two of the feed would suffice. Ultimately it seems wasteful to feed BSF anything that isn't considered waste, but I hope to learn something from the test, and maybe some people will find it easier to start out working with a "clean" food source instead of garbage.
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#119190 - 05/18/08 01:20 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
I'll go take some pics today and they'll be the 'Day 1' picture. I'll take more when the basil starts to sprout.

I was researching bsf on the internet and I ran into a site that says they they're a pest in central america because they lay eggs inside young bananas. Also they'll do the same thing to bee hives as well. Maybe look out for your customers that are also bee keepers. But anyways, that wasn't the point. I was thinking about your bait boxes and I wondered if you had any bananas in there? Maybe honey too.. but that sounds like a sticky mess.

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#119195 - 05/18/08 05:06 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Thanks for the info about bees mrgrackle, I'll be sure to mention it to prospective BioPod customers.

I've noticed something interesting about the way BSFL react to bananas. They love the fruit but they ignore the peels. Since they're able to chew up small fish bones I originally assumed they would eat the peels. I've come to the conclusion that there must be some type of repellent property to banana peels. That would make sense if you're a banana in a part of the world with a huge insect population I guess.

It's been almost two weeks since I put out the BSF bait boxes and as of today I have a good start on a BSFL colony. For the past several days I've left the 4 bait boxes in my old BSF container and there have been a good number of adults laying eggs there. Today I removed the boxes and other cardboard and put them in a closed container. There are a lot of eggs on the boxes and I will collect them as they hatch and add them to the main colony. Here's a video showing the larvae under one of the four boxes taken this morning: VIDEO

There are still some house flies coming into the scraps, but as the BSFL colony grows the other flies will be almost entirely absent.

I experimented with putting corrugated cardboard around the food scraps to see if I could entice the BSF to lay their eggs on it. I did have some success, but it seems that they laid eggs just about everywhere. They do prefer narrow spaces between objects, and when that situation is present they seem to concentrate their eggs in one place. Otherwise they spread them all over a surface.


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#119577 - 05/21/08 08:43 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
I moved my colony into the shade and I think it is doing even better. When I went out this morning I saw 3 females laying eggs at the same time. Everytime I go by it there's some there laying eggs.

I took some photos of the test pots planted with basil & bush bean seeds. They're just pots of dirt at this point so no point in posting them. I'll post pics once the seens sprout and we can see if there's a difference.

My colony produces a lot of liquid every day. I also have a big problem with biting flies in my backyard and they're constantly all over my dogs. I started spreading it out in the backyard around my porch where the flies are really bad. The last couple days there have been a lot less flies. I'm going to continue this and see if there continue to be less flies. It could be coincidence at this point though because some days the flies are worse then others.

I've bought a bunch of grass seed to plant in the backyard as well. I was going to fertilize part of it with bsf juice as well to see if there's a noticable difference. I go through a lot of fish emulsion so if this stuff could replace it that would save me some money.


Edited by mrgrackle (05/21/08 08:44 PM)

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#119681 - 05/22/08 09:11 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
A little over two weeks ago I put out these bait boxes:


This is the resulting colony as of this morning:


I've noticed that the house flies have decreased in the last few days, and there is still a steady presence of BSF laying eggs in the Magg-o-matic.

I tried feeding some larvae to my Redears, but the FH kept intercepting them.
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#119705 - 05/22/08 11:02 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
ewest Offline
Moderator
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19382
Loc: Miss.
What a squirming mass of forage. \:D
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#119778 - 05/23/08 04:17 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: ewest]
rmedgar Offline
Ambassador
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Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2434
Loc: S. Mississippi
GW, your box arrived today. The eggs looks fine, but I'm afraid we lost a few larvae. It was like a Japanese sauna in the plastic container when I opened it, and I thought they were all dead, but quite a few were ok, and are now in their new home. Thanks very much for the effort, and hopefully your babies will enjoy their new residence in west GA.
I'll add pictures soon.
Randy
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#119780 - 05/23/08 04:26 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: rmedgar]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Great Randy, I was a little worried about possible carnage. I was trying to be thrifty and stay under 13 ounces to qualify for first class mail. By far there are more individuals in the eggs than there are larvae. If you don't start to see adults coming to your container in a few weeks I'll send you another installment.

I'm going to consider better methods for shipping before trying it again.
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#119818 - 05/23/08 09:08 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
I've read the liquid the larva produce is a great way to start a new colony.... mmmm pheromones.

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#119820 - 05/23/08 09:25 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
The problem is that you don't have the liquid if you don't already have a colony. If you want to help share your colony it's probably easiest to just give someone eggs.
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#120260 - 05/28/08 12:09 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
So my bsf liquid byproduct as fertilizer experiment is coming along. The basil seeds and the yellow crookneck squash seeds I've planted have come up but I don't really see any difference in the plants fertilized with the bsf juice and those that haven't been.

Pretty much all the sprouts look the same size, color, etc. irregaurdless of wether I watered them only with water, 1:15 water:bsf liquid, or pure bsf liquid. I'm pretty dissappointed because if the bsf can't prduce a viable fertilizer and they reduce the amount of compost to 10% then they really don't leave much left over for my garden. My colony is producing a lot of larva for my fish but I was hoping to get some plant nutrients as well.

It does seem like the bsf liquid should have some nutrients in it. I'm wondering if perhaps the bsf liquid should be left to sit around for awhile before using it as a fertilizer. If there's enough biological action still going on in the water maybe it's like using green compost. I'm going to experiment further.. oh and I'm still letting the seeds grow and watering them with the different solutions. I'll keep you posted.

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#120600 - 06/01/08 09:07 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Thanks for sharing your progress mrgrackle. I assume you have prepupal larvae migrating out of your colony by now.

Randy, are you seeing a good number of larvae hatching? Did any of the live larvae survive? I suggest you let any final stage larvae pupate near where you want your BioPod. I believe it takes them about 2 weeks to develop into adults and when they emerge they should mate and look for the closest good place to lay their eggs. If you have an active colony they'll find it easily. I've read that they mate on bushes so consider that for your set up.

You might want to keep a few of the final stage (dark colored) larvae for observation so you know when the others are emerging. They will prefer some sand or soil to bury themselves in. If you like I'll send you another shipment of eggs so you have some active larvae when any adults emerge. A week from now seems like good timing.

If you have your own local population of BSF visiting your container then you don't need to worry about releasing any final stage larvae or getting more eggs. If they're coming it should be easy to observe them on a hot sunny day.

Good luck.
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#120608 - 06/01/08 09:48 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
rmedgar Offline
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Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2434
Loc: S. Mississippi
Hi GW, h/w an update: unfortunately, the eggs didn't hatch, but the larvae have done real well. I put them in the box that you shipped them in and added scrapes. It's hard to tell what they liked best, but I know they liked potatoes. Yesterday I was going to clean out the box and move them and was surprised at how well they have done. I probably have about 150+ with about 20 in the brown stage. The strange thing was that when I cleaned out the little box there were only about 20-30, and I was about to throw the box away when I riped open a corner of the corrugated box and there were some hidden in there. The more I tore open the more I found (at least 100-125). Some were in moist areas and some hard climbed up the corrugated "tube" into the upper dry area. I moved them to another box that wasn't sealed properly and they immediately went for the openings and escape. As of this morning I still haven't seen any adults - my container is in a shaded area. Should I let some of the brown ones loose and hope they come back and lay eggs? Move the container to a more sunny area? Any other suggestions?
Thanks, randy
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#120626 - 06/01/08 12:01 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: rmedgar]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Randy, I had the same impression about some eggs not hatching before, but I was surprised several days later to see tiny larvae. You probably wouldn't have seen them without magnification. The best thing to do is to put the cardboard with the eggs in your container (but not in the food) and leave them.

I would keep the colony shaded, but a hot sunny day will be when the adults are most active. If you aren't seeing adults yet then definitely let the mature larvae go. I would place them on loose soil so they can dig in before toads and birds get them. I set aside some prepupal larvae a few days ago and I'll let you know when they start to emerge. You can follow the progress at my blog if you want to.

I'm collecting more eggs and I'll send them to you in a few days if you're interested. In the future I think I'll send people a combination of eggs and pupae or final stage larvae (prepupae). I think that would be an effective way to seed an area.

Thanks for the report, still no word on the BioPods yet.

edit: I'll bet the larvae you found in the box hatched during shipment and got out of the plastic bag. I think that would explain how larvae got into the box.


Edited by GW (06/01/08 12:05 PM)
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#120890 - 06/04/08 08:02 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
 Originally Posted By: mrgrackle
I was researching bsf on the internet and I ran into a site that says they they're a pest in central america because they lay eggs inside young bananas. Also they'll do the same thing to bee hives as well.

mrgrackle, I couldn't find any sources that indicate that BSF enter active bee hives, can you share any links? The only reference to bee hives I could find had to do with abandoned hives. I've been wondering how a black soldier fly could manage to get onto a hive without being attacked by the bees.

I did find articles stating that the BSFL tea can be used as fertilizer.
 Quote:
After filtering through cheese cloth and dilution at a 10:1 or 15:1 ratio, this tea may be used as a liquid fertilizer or foliar spray.

How are your plants coming along?
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#121101 - 06/06/08 08:10 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I started putting out BSFL for the wild birds to eat. To begin with I'm using a white plastic lid tacked onto a fence post. Once the birds get used to taking the BSFL from the lid I'll work on gradually acclimating them to a more substantial feeder.

The small lip of this lid is enough to contain the BSFL unless there is significant condensation. If the sides are wet they can usually get enough traction to crawl up vertical surfaces.



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#121129 - 06/06/08 11:41 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
jeffhasapond Offline
Ambassador
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Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 7613
Loc: Pond in No CA, Me in So CA
Hey GW, I meant to tell you the blog looks great!
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#121146 - 06/06/08 01:36 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: jeffhasapond]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Thanks jhap. I've been busy building my girl a carport so I haven't had time to post much lately, but I'll get to it soon.
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#121164 - 06/06/08 06:45 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I uploaded a cool video to YouTube featuring some BSFL and a few very happy toads.

ATTACK OF THE LARVA MUNCHING TOADS!!!!!!11
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