Black Soldier Fly Composting Intro Part 2- Starting a Colony

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Image courtesy Shawn Marie Hardy

Part one of this series was pretty brief; here we will go into a little more depth on starting to compost with these remarkable larvae.

Starting a colony
If we want to begin a colony of BSFL to compost our waste there are 2 basic ways to do it.
  • Attract egg laying females
  • Purchase a starter colony

Attracting the Female Black Soldier Fly

Attracting females is a cheaper albeit potentially longer process to start growing a black soldier fly colony for composting. To attract egg laying females:
  1. black soldier flies should be native to your region,
  2.  it must be warm and relatively humid.
  3. You’ll need something rotting with a strong odor.
  4. You need a place for females to oviposit (lay eggs) above or adjacent to your smelly food.

Regardless whether you attract a colony or buy a starter colony the process will only vary slightly. Start out with a container of something with a strong odour. One particularly productive combination for attracting females is a mix of used coffee grounds and really cheap, dry dog food. Simply soak the dog food in water and mix it with the coffee grounds. Banana and coffee grounds are another good combination. Set this out in a bucket or a tote. You can use corrugated cardboard or corflute (corrugated plastic often used for political campaign signs) himg above the surface of the container contents as egg “traps”. This is usually irresistible to female black soldier flies. They will oviposit in the corrugations or on drier surface material. Once eggs appear the larvae will begin to hatch in as little as 4 days. Once hatching begins it’s a good idea to move the larvae and any full egg traps to a new, larger bin preferably with a harvest ramp (more on harvest ramps later). You can now reset your bin and attempt to grow your colony further by collecting more eggs.
 In the next post I’ll look at environmental conditions for keeping a colony going and feeding practices…More later
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Larry Shier
 

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