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#87526 - 06/22/07 06:41 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
It's been almost a week since the majority of the large larvae got cooked. I thought about starting a new scrap bucket and transferring surviving larvae, but that seemed too labor intensive. Instead I decided to leave the dead larvae in the pile, the thought being that the living BSFL would eventually consume the dead ones.

Instead I'm guessing that the survivors did not eat the dead BSFL. I can't be sure of this but there are a few indicators. I watched every day for evidence that the dead larvae were being eaten, but the quantity seemed to remain constant. I also saw various other species of flies around the bucket. After 3 or 4 days the dead larvae started smelling and looked slightly dehydrated.

Yesterday I saw an even larger presence of house flies and noticed a fair number of small maggots that I assume came from these flies. This seems to go against what I had read about BSF repelling other fly species. Apparently there are certain conditions that overcome the ability of the BSF to monopolize the scraps.

Now I have an opportunity to see what happens when house flies invade the bin. According to popular theory the house fly maggots will not be able to escape the bin because the ramps are too steep for them to climb. I'm curious about whether or not the BSFL will eat any dead house fly maggots since it seems that they did not eat their own dead.

I moved the bin away from the house because of the increased odor and the presence of the house flies. I'm guessing that this cycle will come to an end soon, and that the scrap bin will be strictly BSF turf once again.
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#87527 - 06/26/07 12:05 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
It looks like the other flies have cycled through and the bin is back to being almost exclusively BSFL. The odor is very mild and I don't see many other species around the scraps.

This video shows the vitality of BSF larvae. I know that if you are a fish, it will stimulate your appetite.



These will come in handy when I get a cane pole!
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#87528 - 06/26/07 11:45 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
DJT Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/25/07
Posts: 343
Loc: SW Illinois
We truly live in the information age. I can come home from work, get on line, and in seconds see a video of how some guys bucket of maggots is doing 500 miles away. :rolleyes: \:D

What a time to live.
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#87529 - 06/27/07 12:05 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
Wow!
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#87530 - 06/27/07 08:51 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I'm learning that the BSF larvae have their food preferences. The potatoes that can be seen in the video were added two days ago. As you can see in the video, the larvae concentrate under the potatoes, but it appears that none of them have eaten any. I also added a jalapeno pepper two days ago and it is untouched. A peach that I put in late last night was gone this morning. I've put in a few whole bananas and several peels. The fruit is eaten right away, but not the peels.

I'm going to decrease the amount of new scraps so that I can see what happens to these uneaten items when less food is available. Pretty soon I'll be adding a fresh whole fish to see if the BSF will consume it before it gets stinky.

It's much more pleasant to work with the bin now that the other fly species are absent. At least it only took a few days for them to pass through.
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#87531 - 06/27/07 10:19 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
GW,

That's a sight that only a fish could love.

Do you plan to keep raising BSF larvae continuously, or will you stop at some point and try to store them?

Can you refrigerate them and retard pupation?

I can just imagine feeding those larvae to my fish every day. I bet after a week or so, the BG would get a taste for them, and absolutely tear them up on a hook. Have you got that far yet?
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#87532 - 06/27/07 02:02 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Actually it's not just fish that love them bobad, reptiles and birds are big fans of BSF larvae. If you do a search for "phoenix worms" you'll find sites geared toward reptiles and other exotic pets. Here are links to a few sites that sell the larvae and give good descriptions of them and how to store them. (Check out the $!)

http://www.wormman.com/pd_phoenix.cfm

http://www.premiumcrickets.com/Phoenix-Worms_31.html

I will definitely keep raising the larvae, for Mr H's fish now, and for my own when my pond is ready.

As far as training fish to take them, nature has already done it. I've tested them as bait and got a hit on every larva. The problem I ran into was the relatively small size of the maggots, and they seemed to stop moving when hooked. I'll be doing more research into use as bait eventually. The little reading I did indicated that maggots are a traditional bait in some areas and for certain fish species.

Until the last couple of days I didn't have ramps set up to take advantage of the BSF instinct to leave the mass when ready to pupate. This creates the self-harvesting advantage with BSF. Up to this point I have manually harvested mid-stage larvae which are very active and light in color. At this stage the larvae are highly visible when tossed into the water as they float and move a lot. Fish are attracted immediately. Now that I'm harvesting the final stage (instar) larvae I'm curious about any differences. At this stage the larvae are almost black and don't seem to be nearly as active. My guess is that fish will still target them, but maybe not as aggressively. I've only collected 4 final stage larvae as of today, but soon there will be more.

I've been feeding the corralled Goggle-eyes (WM) BSFL every day and they can eat a dozen easily, even at their current small size. The ones that have been in the corral the longest are fairly casual about eating them, but the recently added WM come out of the water hitting them.

Here's a video of the caged WM feeding on BSF.


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#87533 - 07/01/07 11:50 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I've tweeked the exit ramps on my bin so that I'm now taking better advantage of the self harvesting behavior. Yesterday about 2 dozen final-stage larvae dropped into my collection buckets. I fed them to the three WM that are now in the fish corral and they took them quickly. The numbers of younger larvae are increasing so I expect a much higher yield soon.

The black color of the final stage doesn't seem to make them less attractive to fish. They also seemed just as active as the mid stage larvae.

The bin is virtually odorless when the lid is down. When I open the lid there is only a mild and pleasantly earthy aroma.
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#87534 - 07/11/07 04:29 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I'm regularly collecting final stage larvae now. They drop into a collection bucket so I don't have to dig them out of the scraps. They are dry and seem to be very clean. I have no hesitation to reach in and grab some, and in fact it's more pleasant than handling worms because there isn't any slime. The BSF try to crawl away but it isn't as dramatic as it is with worms.

All I need now is a pond full of fish.



On a side note, the BSF always eat soft food like fruit or dairy products first, but one exception is coffee grounds. Every morning I put the used coffee, filter and all, into the bin and the larvae head straight for it. \:\)
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#87535 - 07/11/07 10:35 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
 Quote:
Every morning I put the used coffee, filter and all, into the bin and the larvae head straight for it. \:\)
Well I'm not surprised. Just look at their color. \:D
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#87536 - 07/12/07 12:35 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
Bruce Condello Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
Fascinating. The larvae even look "clean" in a dirty sort of way.
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#87537 - 07/12/07 07:57 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
Theo Gallus Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12389
Loc: Central Ohio
Far nicer than the average maggot.
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#87538 - 07/12/07 08:02 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
rmedgar Offline
Ambassador
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2435
Loc: S. Mississippi
GW, great project! How long before the larvae turn into a BSF?
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#87539 - 07/12/07 09:04 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I read from one source that the larvae excrete an antibiotic as part of the final larval stage. The idea is that they disinfect themselves to prepare for pupation. I want to know more about that but I've only found the one comment so far.

In the last photo the larvae were a little damp because rain had gotten into the collection bucket. Normally they would be dry and possibly more germ-free than the average pond boss.

Based on the marketing material from websites selling these as "Phoenix worms" they will stay in this form, at room temperature, for weeks. I think I'll keep a few in a jar and watch them change.

I checked 4 websites selling BSF larvae and 100 full size "worms" cost $6 - $10 which included shipping. In the picture I'm holding about 50. \:\)
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#87540 - 07/13/07 07:13 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
John G. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/26/07
Posts: 69
Loc: Jackonville, Florida
Hey, this is a very interesting project. Could you post another picture of you box with the exit ramps in place? They want 129$ for the one in the web site you posted. I was thinking about making one of my own. What type of food do you recomend I start off with. One that would attract bsf and not the reg. house fly. Thanx John

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#87541 - 07/13/07 11:53 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
John, do you have a crazy uncle in Georgia? I have a nephew named John G. in Jax.

I've chosen not to post any details of my BSF bin mainly because my design is just a low budget copy of the unit designed by ESR. I would rather encourage people to buy the unit from them. Also their unit will function better than my crude imitation. I know that from seeing the deficiencies of my homemade bin.

ESR is a forward thinking company that is trying to make the world better. I like to see companies like that succeed.

I've read that it's best to start a BSF colony with vegetable scraps for the exact reason you stated. In practice you will attract many more BSF with something more smelly. They are attracted to funky garbage, but after they establish themselves the odor will all but disappear. If you do get other flies laying on the initial scraps just be patient and the BSF will take over soon enough.

Sorry about not sharing my design, I hope you understand my reasoning.
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#87542 - 07/15/07 10:56 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
Fish Test 1.0

Today (Sunday) at 9:15 AM I added a 4 oz fish to the BSF bin. The fish was caught this morning. The high temperature for today is forecast at 91 degrees.



PS: I want to add to what I said about not sharing my bin construction. The $130 that ESR will be charging is a fair price in today's economy. I've paid more than that for large plastic items (see Rubbermaid) that didn't have the design effort of the Bio-Converter. Then consider what you can do with this product. If you maintain it near capacity you can convert 10 lbs of waste into 2.5 lbs. of live fish food in one day. If you assign a value of $1 per lb to the larvae it would only take 4 months for this unit to pay for itself. An ounce or two of these larvae are currently selling for $6 - $10 delivered. If you've read the nutritional information about BSF you will probably agree that there is not much available that match their quality. In other words, they are worth more than $1/lb.

I assume that Dr. Olivier and ESR Inc. strive to make a profit like most people, but they have chosen routes that take the world in a better direction. I think they should be rewarded for doing so.

*gets down from soap box*
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#87543 - 07/16/07 07:17 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
cliffbrook Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 274
Loc: Marshall County Iowa
but i cant buy an ESR for 130$....

so helping out some noncreative hobbyists for free doesnt sound out of line

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#87544 - 07/16/07 08:17 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
cliffbrook, try building one and if you run into trouble you can always ask general questions. In the mean time just get a bucket and cut a few small openings on the sides like my first photos. You can start growing the colony while you work out the details of the bin.

I'll help, but I just want to keep it general.
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#87545 - 07/16/07 10:09 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
The fish test results indicate that you can "recycle" a limited number of culled fish back into your pond in the form of BSFL. It's been 24 hours since I added the 4 oz fish to the BSF bin, and the fish is 90% gone with larvae still working on it. The odor from the fish has varied from not noticeable to barely noticeable. At no point could I smell the fish from 6 feet away with the lid on. My judgment of the odor is supported by the fact that in frequent trips to the bin I only observed 2 house flies, and they were on the outside of the bin. It wouldn't be uncommon to see 2 flies almost anywhere over that time period.

I should mention that I slit the belly of the fish before adding it. You can't see it in the first photo because it was not open. As the BSF found it and entered the fish it became obvious. In the future I'll try it without a helper slit.

It's probable that my colony could have consumed 2 or more similar fish with the same efficiency because the largest number of larvae involved in eating the fish at any one time was only a small fraction of the total population. One variable might be what other food has been added to the bin. I fed the colony the usual amount the day before the test, but nothing except the fish for the test.

My bin is about 1/2 the surface area of the ESR bin, so the quantities their unit could handle should be about double. Also, I'm only feeding the BSF minimal amounts of scraps (8oz/day average) so it's possible I could have a larger, more robust colony if I fed them more. There has been consistent replenishment of eggs by wild adult BSF, but their presence is much less than in the past. One theory is that by adding more scraps I would initially create more odor and therefore attract more BSF females. My guess is that given a fairly consistent food supply, the BSF numbers will adjust naturally.

On a side note, I observed what looked like a parasitic worm on the fish after most of the flesh had been eaten. It was alive and it's visible in the 7:00 photo. This seems to indicate another benefit of recycling culls; you can monitor at least some parasites this way. To test for parasites you could transfer some larvae from the bin to a closed container with a fish. The larvae won't harm a living animal so any parasites should become visible as the fish is eaten.

11:30 am


1:50 pm


3:30 pm


5:00 pm


6:00 pm


7:00 pm


8:00 pm


Day 2 - 7:30 am


Was it really necessary to post those pictures? Call 1-800-BSFLOVE and place your vote!
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#87546 - 07/16/07 10:23 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
rmedgar Offline
Ambassador
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 2435
Loc: S. Mississippi
GW, great information. Thanks for all the work.
Great pictures. Got to go - meeting some friends at Captain D's.
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#87547 - 07/16/07 08:47 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
I checked the fish at 11:30 today (26 hours +/-) and it's obvious that odor will not be a problem at this ratio of fish to larvae. There were still a small number of larvae on the fish, but I would estimate that it was 95% consumed.

I put my used coffee grounds in the bin and they were on it like yuppies at a Starbucks. (No offense to the upwardly mobile intended).


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#87548 - 07/18/07 09:30 AM Re: Black Soldier Fly project
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
When I checked the BSF this morning I noticed some final stage larvae had exited through the vent holes and landed on a plastic lid that was under the bin. I keep the bin on sawhorses to help prevent ants from getting in. The interesting thing is that the larvae were going in circles, apparently unable to climb the small lip of the inverted storage container lid. That lip can't be much more than 3/8 inch.

I moved the lid and let the larvae go free because I have more than I can use now.


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#96551 - 09/08/07 12:57 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
The colony has grown steadily all summer and I'm amazed at how fast they are processing food scraps. The other day I put in 2 pieces of old quiche with the intention of photographing the larvae eating it. (Being a real man, I don't eat quiche) I went back after about 30 minutes and the only remaining trace was a 1 inch piece of crust.

Today at 12:45 I served them an open-faced rancid peanut butter and banana peel sandwich on moldy bread.






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#96553 - 09/08/07 01:59 PM Re: Black Soldier Fly project [Re: GW]
GW Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 2287
Loc: Central florida
1:30

I don't know where they get their table manners from, must be their moms. At least they eat the crust.


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