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#121226 - 06/07/08 02:33 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
OneTwentySix Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/07/08
Posts: 1
Loc: Spartanburg, SC
A friend on another forum sent me a link to this thread here and I've got to say, I'm really impressed. I read through all 11 pages in one sitting, and as a salamander breeder, the potential of raising BSFL (which I'd abandoned as amphibian food due to the cost) could really make a huge dent into my bills. But before I go out and start putting a large-scale BSFL culturing project together, I wanted to see if I could attract them to my yard, as so far I've had no luck (though it's only been around 4 days.) I'm using 12 pack carton like GW suggested, with some damp dog food, a banana, a spoiled Kraft single, and some lettuce as a started, but all I've been getting so far are fruit flies and various housefly species.

Do any of you BSFL culturers have any advice as that what I might do so that I can attact some adults to come lay? I'm in a city, but it's not a real urban environment; lots of invertebrates around as well as gray tree frogs, etc. Would it help to get some BSFL or some of their "juice" to help attract them, and if so, would someone on the board be interested in selling me some? Any help or advice would be appreciated; I don't think I'll be able to afford one of the neat Biotope units unless I can find an outlet to sell surplus larvae, but if things go well and a homemade unit is a pain it's always a possibility.

Thanks!

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#121227 - 06/07/08 03:08 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: OneTwentySix]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Hi OneTwentySix, thanks for the kind words.

I think that you could establish some BSF around your place without much trouble. You could order a small number of larvae and feed them until they're ready to pupate. Then you would release the prepupal larvae in the area that you want to culture BSFL. When they emerge as adults they will hopefully breed and the females will seek out a food source which you would have ready. I think each female lays something like 900 eggs.

If you try this I recommend keeping a few pupae in a container so you can know when they're emerging. I believe the transformation takes about 2 weeks so you could probably estimate the timing. I have a post at my blog where I'm testing the pupation time of my first larvae from this year.

MORE VIDEO OF TOAD FEEDING ADVENTURES
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#121235 - 06/07/08 05:08 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
rmedgar Offline
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Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2434
Loc: S. Mississippi
GW, good news! Things are looking up over here. The larvae that you sent are black and trying to get away. I've let quite a few go (with the assistance of my dog who was after a tuna sandwich). Also in that group are at least 100 small ones that are either the eggs that you sent (that I put in there thinking that they were dead) or we've had some female visitors. I also put a larger container in the back yard and in spite of ants and every other bug known to man, we have BSF larvae in there - lots of 'em!
Just wanted to keep you updated. Thanks again for your help.
Randy
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#121237 - 06/07/08 05:31 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: rmedgar]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Sounds great Randy. I hope you have local BSF coming to your unit, but if they are it should be very easy to ID them. They rarely land on people, but neither are they shy about landing and laying eggs with someone observing.

I think ants are the biggest annoyance when keeping a colony of BSFL. About once a week I spray a little repellent on the legs of my BSFL unit.

Keep us posted!
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#121295 - 06/08/08 11:53 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
GW Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
I've been playing with toads...






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#121297 - 06/08/08 01:20 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
Theo Gallus Offline
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Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12332
Loc: Central Ohio
Everyone needs a hobby.
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#121298 - 06/08/08 01:41 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Theo Gallus]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida

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#121301 - 06/08/08 02:17 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
 Originally Posted By: GW
 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?


I'll see if I can find the link about honey bee hives. As far as the bsf liquid byproduct as fertilizer experiment... mixed results. The liquid diluted to 1:15 doesn't seem to make much difference vs water. But the basil I watered at 100% bsf liquid does seem to be doing better. I used basil seed I had left over from last year (and maybe the year before) and not as many germinated as I would have liked. The few basil sprouts in the 100% bsf liquid pots are doing much better then the few basil sprouts inthe 100% water pots. I also planted some squash seeds and those have sprouted as well. I was watering 6 pots with 100% water and 6 pots with 1:15 bsf:water solution.. there doesn't seem to be any noticable difference. I've started watering with 100% bsf liquid and maybe we'll see some changes.

My colony is full of larva but I don't have a convenient collection bucket system like the biopod has. I just place fruit cut in half in the top of the colony. After a few hours I can lift the fruit up and there will be an absolute writhing swarming mass of larva.. I just scope them out with a spade and through them to my bluegill.

You where right about having leaves in the colony (as in, I shouldnt have them in the colony). They've become a rotting mess that stinks, yet the bsf don't want to eat them. It's heating the bin up pretty good... the bsf don't seem to mind to much yet. I've thrown some of my worms from my vermicompost into the bsf bin to help them out with the leaves.

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#121302 - 06/08/08 04:21 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Thanks for the update mrgrackle.

I imagine that the concentration of the BSFL tea varies depending on what you feed them. I don't typically add anything with a high moisture content so I don't even get the tea. In fact I often add water to make it easier for the larvae to work.

You may want to consider finding a way to harvest the prepupal (dark) larvae. I think it would be better to feed those larvae to your fish since they aren't processing any scraps at this point. I suppose they could pupate in your container, but I don't think it's the most desirable situation. All you would need to do is angle the container to about 40 degrees on an afternoon when you're at home. The final stage larvae should march right out and drop into whatever container you put underneath. If you get more than you want to use that day you can store them for several weeks at room temperature.

I hope to hear more about combining the worms and the larvae.
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#121306 - 06/08/08 05:36 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
mrgrackle Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 28
Loc: austin, texas, earth
I think that's exactly correct GW. I think that it depends on the concentration of the liquid. I piled a bunch of vegetables I found in a dumpster into my fly bin and they produced a LOT of liquid for number of days. Now it's tapered off a lot and I'm getting a lot less of the liquid. Another thing may help is to let the liquid sit around for a week or more to let it finish 'cooking'. Biological action in green compost can actually be detrimental to plants because it takes nitrogen and oxygen out of the soil. I'm still taking pictures. I'll post when I get a series put together.

I've read that worms and maggots work together pretty well. I actually have some bsf in my worm bin as well. Honestly, I wish they weren't because they eat the compost before my worms have a chance. There aren't a whole lot of them though so it's alright.

I found a reference to beehives on the biopod site:
http://thebiopod.com/pages/pages/bsf.html

fly control site
http://www.flycontrol.novartis.com/species/soldierfly/en/index.shtml

entomology site (though they say "waste materials found in beehives")
http://www.entomology.ucr.edu/ebeling/ebel12.html

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#121316 - 06/08/08 07:43 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: mrgrackle]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Thanks for the links mrgrackle, I'll check them out when I have some time.
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#121901 - 06/14/08 10:53 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: CharlieLittle]
Barbara Z Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
Good question Charlie. I was wondering the very same thing and joined this forum specifically to participate in this discussion.

I don't have a pond and the only fish I have are the ones in the lake off my beach down the road (I live in Canada on the north shore of lake Erie) but I am interested in the black soldier fly.

I first heard about the BSF in a vermiculture forum as I have begun my own worm bins. To feed my worms I grind up vegetable/fruit scraps in a food processor to make it easier for the little critters to digest the food. If the BSF consumes whole scraps as quickly as claimed, I've been curious about whether having them break down the food first would be a labour-saving step in my worm project. From what I understand BSF larvae also consume meat where the worms are mainly vegetarians. It would be nice to be able to have the fly larvae consume all of our household "wet" compostable scraps then feed the resulting compost to the worms.

Just this morning I started my own trial BSF "bin" in a 5 gal pail. I want to see if I can attract BSF and establish a colony. If successful, I'm seriously considering investing in a BioPod but have two concerns: 1. how do I keep the colony alive and functioning over the winter and 2. what do I do with the all pre-pupae larvae?

Anyway, I'm going to keep reading all the other posts in this thread to learn more.
Thanks for letting me chime in.
Barbara.

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#121903 - 06/14/08 11:05 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Barbara Z]
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
 Originally Posted By: Barbara Z
... how do I keep the colony alive and functioning over the winter...


Welcome to Pond Boss Barbara.

I'd like to propose a counter-question in regards to Barbara concern about over wintering.

Could you not create a "zone map" similar to what tree growing enthusiasts have that would show an image of North America with East to West lines that could show a BSF newbie where they could expect various over-wintering challenges? Does that make any sense?

I'm just thinking that most people won't get into something like this if they think that there's going to be a difficult re-start project every spring.
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#121905 - 06/14/08 12:25 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Bruce Condello]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Hi Barbara, a word of caution; if you read this forum much you might catch the same bug we all have. \:\)

I like your idea Bruce. I'm hearing the same question from several people in colder climates. I recommend you all move to the south. ;\)

From everything I've read to this point BSF can be anywhere on the continent with the limiting factor being freezing temperatures. I know that pupae can be stored for extended periods with refrigeration and that a colony will remain active through cold weather if the colony is insulated. They actually generate heat by churning and all you need to do is contain that heat. Even though they would be warm under these circumstances their development slows down considerably so you can use the same individuals to process waste for months instead of weeks.

What I want to learn is whether or not they can survive on their own as pupae through sub-freezing weather. At the least you can establish and then restart your own colony each spring. The good news is that once the colony is established it takes very little maintenance.

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#121907 - 06/14/08 01:34 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Bruce Condello]
Barbara Z Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
Thank you for the welcome Bruce. A zone map would be a marvelous tool for newbies like myself.

From what I've read today, the BSF's range is as far north as Boston. Interestingly, where I am geographically is actually south of Detroit in a region of Canada's only Carolinian forest. Our summers are positively tropical with very high humidity while our winters are relatively mild (relative of course to the rest of Canada). We get snow but generally we get two or three "dumps" of up to 12 inches per winter and it usually melts away within a week or two.

I feel sorry for the folks around here who own SkiDoos as they only get to play with them, if they are lucky, two or three times in the season. Unlike when I lived on the James Bay frontier and people used their snow machines to go through the McDonald's drive thru. (grin) I moved here from there because it was as far south as I could go and still be in Canada. (grin)

My concern with the BSF is how to over-winter them. I've read that placing a layer of styrofoam over the container will help keep the heat in. Does anyone have experience in over-wintering their BSFs?
Thanks again for the welcome, Barb.

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#121908 - 06/14/08 01:47 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
Barbara Z Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
Gee, I'm afraid it's too late. I've already been exposed. (grin)

I think I caught "the bug" the day my worms arrived. Being introduced to the BSF has just made things worse - I think I am hooked.

Today I found a site from the local university's forensic science, forestry and agriculture department and a couple of the grad students there have been doing some studies with the BSF. One on "Waste conversion by black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, and impact of diet on developmental rates" and another on "Reproduction and development of Hermetia illucens at different temperatures". That last study might answer some of your questions. I've emailed the head of the department for more info so I'll let you know what she says should she respond.

This morning I put out a 5 gal pail with an apple core, couple of used tea bags and a couple of slices of roast beef (that should be thrown out). I put some crumpled paper next to the food, drilled four 1/4 inch holes a few inches under the lid and placed the pail outside. I'm not sure if that's going to be enough to attract some female BSFs. I have some really smelly tuna in the fridge. Do you think I should add that to the pail?

Thanks, Barb

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#121910 - 06/14/08 02:17 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Barbara Z]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Barbara, given your climate I think it should be fairly easy to maintain a colony all year. I found this at the BioPod website:
 Quote:
Larvae over winter in a sheltered dry location, with pupae development slowing considerably during the coldest months. Depending on a multitude of environmental triggers, pupation occurs irregularly throughout spring and summer, so that the emergence of adults is spread out over an extended time period.
SOURCE

And this from ESR Intl:
 Quote:
During summer, the conversion rate of fresh food waste into fresh larvae runs as high as 20%, but during winter, this conversion drops to less than 5%, in spite of the fact that the larvae digest roughly the same daily quantity of food waste per unit surface area. Under ideal summer conditions, it takes about two weeks for newly hatched larvae to reach their mature prepupal form, but during the cold of fall and winter, this two-week period may extend to six months. If SF larvae are able to generate their own heat throughout winter and if they are able to extend their life cycle until more favorable conditions return in spring, then the management of SF larvae becomes far easier than anyone had previously imagined.

If disposal units are well insulated, then SF technology could be introduced to some of the coldest regions of our planet. If so, the supply of eggs to such extreme areas will become an important technical issue, and all aspects of larval maturation must be researched in a definitive and conclusive manner.

During the hot summer months, overcrowding can easily occur, and this overcrowding gives rise to relatively high temperatures within the unit. In order to cool down, some actively feeding larvae are forced to exit the unit. This migration continues until the density of larvae and temperature within the unit drop to an acceptable level. But during the winter months, larvae can thrive in very large numbers without overheating, and as the mass of larvae increases in winter, so too, the amount of waste consumed within a given unit. Paradoxically it would appear that this bioconversion unit functions far better in winter than in summer.
SOURCE

Since I discovered how well dry dog food works to attract BSF I personally wouldn't use anything as volatile as meat or fish. Anyway the worse case scenario is that you'll have to dump some nasty garbage out in a few days.

If you have some time on a hot sunny afternoon, see if you can identify any BSF that might be visiting your scraps. They're easy to recognize and they aren't afraid of humans observing them.

You might need larger holes in your bucket. Maybe not, but they're pretty big and I've never tried limiting them to 1/4 inch holes before. If they can't enter easily they will probably lay on the outside of the bucket.

Good luck.
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#121913 - 06/14/08 02:38 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
Barbara Z Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
Thanks GW!
Since I just put that bait out this morning I'll trash it and start over with some dry dog food I have out in the shed. By the way, when I say shed it's really a small insulated room attached to my house (I live in a small cottage by the lake) that houses my furnace and hot water tank. I've set up a small workbench in there and keep my camping gear and worm bins in there. I call it a shed because to access it, I have to go outside.

I'm going to go right now and drill some bigger holes in the pail too.
Thanks again, Barb.

I drilled new holes with the largest drill bit I have, 3/8 inches. Hope that's big enough. And I fed the roast beef slices to the feral cats in the neighbourhood and replaced that with some stale Iams dog food I had (soaked the dog food in some water). I took a couple of pics but don't know how to imbed them in this message. Thanks for your help.





Edited by Barbara Z (06/14/08 04:53 PM)

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#122255 - 06/18/08 07:11 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Barbara Z]
Barbara Z Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
Just a quick follow up. I've been checking every day since I put the moistened dog food out in the 5 gal pail. All that's happened was I grew a whitish fuzz over all the dog food. No evidence of flies or egg clutches.

I just checked again tonight because I was thinking about scrapping the whole thing but when I looked very closely, there on the lid and along the inside side of the pail I could see tiny larvae. They are about the size of a grain of rice - gee, maybe not even that big - but I saw 5 or six of them squirming around. I have no idea if they are the larvae of some other creature or genuine BSF larvae.

I'm going to leave things be for a few more days to see what develops.

On another note, I called the BioPod folks today and had a nice chat with a lovely young lady. I've asked them to send me some information. Thanks everyone for your suggestions, Barbara

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#122264 - 06/18/08 09:29 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Barbara Z]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Barbara, it's very likely that you've got larvae of some other species of fly. When I started my colony this year I cycled through a week or so of house flies being the dominant species. Once the BSF start visiting it doesn't take long for them to take over.
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#122382 - 06/19/08 03:30 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
Lumpus Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, Texas
Hello! I found this wonderful thread while doing a google for "soldier black fly larvae nutrition".

I've been researching feed-worm nutritional values for feeding turtles (particularly my Box Turtles) and have pretty much decided upon using SBF's for preferential feeding as they are nutritionally FAR superior to mealworms and even crickets. With turtles, the vastly superior calcium content of these larva is especially welcome.

Is the BioPod shipping yet? I've checked the parent website and can't find any purchase information. I'll send GW a PM to see if I can order from him (I'd also like some 'starter' larvae - I've never seen any BSF's in urban Houston).

I guess once I get my colony going I can contribute my observations from the herp side of things \:\)
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#122384 - 06/19/08 04:17 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
Barbara Z Offline
Fingerling

Registered: 06/14/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
It wouldn't surprise me if they were the larvae of some other species. At their size I couldn't tell one type of larvae from another. I suppose I'll just have to be patient.

Just got home from work and checked the pail. The dog food is still growing some sort of hairy mold and I saw five teenie, tiny white larvae.

Sure wish I could simply put the pail out and ring the dinner bell. :-)

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#122405 - 06/19/08 09:12 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: Barbara Z]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2286
Loc: Central florida
Hi Lumpus, welcome to the forum. The first BioPods were scheduled to arrive last month, but I'm sure delays are common with the first of any product. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with the man that developed the BioPod and he said the shipment was on it's way from Viet Nam. Interest has been good so far and I hope it's a big shipment.

Barbara, for me the hardest part of raising BSF has been getting the colony started, after that it really runs itself. I hope we can get your colony started and then maintain it through the winter. Do you have the skills to take and post photos?

Same question applies to you Lumpus, I would love to see some photos of other people's projects eventually.

rmedgar, are you still out there? Are you getting any recruitment?
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#122425 - 06/19/08 10:21 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
rmedgar Offline
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Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2434
Loc: S. Mississippi
Hi GW, everything is going fine. a few random observations:
I've got the containers in three different spots (sunny, shady, & under my shed) and that doesn't seem to matter - I've got activity everywhere.
Fish like the natural color larvae much better than the black.
Mine love cantelope.
Do the little knats ever go away?
Will the BioPod units have a way to eliminate liquid. I have a good bit of build up.
That's all for now,
Randy
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#122455 - 06/20/08 12:51 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: rmedgar]
DJT Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/25/07
Posts: 343
Loc: SW Illinois
I think that this thread has.....and will continue to......introduce more new members to this forum than any other thread ever has before.

The great holy grail of this project would be to find a starter food that BSF would target yet wouldn't attract the other fly spieces.

Keep it up GW and don't forget to try adding FA to a colony to see if they will consume it.
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