BSFL Introduction Part 3

Black soldier fly bins
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Black soldier fly

Photo by Quoc Huy Nguyen Dinh

Now you’ve started acolony or believe you should by either attracting females or purchasing a starter of larvae. Now there are a couple of decisions to make.

  1. Do you keep the colony outdoors and start over next spring?
  2. Do you allow the adult flies to be free to come and go as they wish? Or do you build an enclosure?
  3. What’s my end ourpose for the larvae?
If you live somewhere warm then starting over in spring should be easier as some of the pupae will overwinter, become adults once its warm and start breeding, laying eggs and start the cycle again. Summer is typically when we have the most waste to manage anyway, so letting the colony run its natural course may well be a viable option. However in a region with harsh winter climate; keeping an indoor colony over the winter months may be more desirable
  Once your black soldier fly colony is establihed, females will readily return to your bin to lay eggs and start a new generation. Some believe there’s  a scent given off by larvae that lures females to return to an already populated bin; as long as food remains available. If you’re concerned about adults returning to lay eggs or you’d just prefer to contain the flies a simple enclosure can be erected using PVC pipe and insect screen. It’s also possible to fashion a more complex bin or utilize a greenhouse space. However, or wherever you decide to try grub composting you just have to fulfill a few basic requiremts to maintain a healthy colony. In the next post of this series we will examine required conditions to keep our black soldier flies happy, eating and breeding.
 Most BSFL farmers are growing larvae for multiple reasons. For some waste reduction may be the primary reason and a few treats for their chickens is a secondary bonus. Others may be growing the larvae for aquaculture feed for their fish with waste reduction or compost as added benefits. Whatever your reason you should decide either before starting or very early in your endeavour. You may wish to feed differently based on your purpose for the grubs. Grubs for chicken feed shouldn’t be fed chicken manure to avoid potential disease issues as an example.
 BSFL are incredibly versatile with many uses for the larvae. The black soldier fly larvae can be used for animal feed for many different animals and pets. Besides chickens and fish that were briefly touched on, they are considered the only insect capable of being the sole diet of bearded dragons and they’re considered a very healthy food for many species of reptile as well as some amphibians like dart frogs. Enterra foods in Canada has recently received government approval to begin using soldier fly larvae to make food for chickens, fish swine and sheep. I expect approval for dog and cat food will come as well in time. Just a few other possibly profitable ideas for BSFL are bait for fishing, waste removal fees, using frass (bug poop) as food for worms and selling quality worm casting and/or worms, aquaculture or aquaponics, for food and/or to dispose of offal and tsnk solids.
 Using these questions to research and begin planning the future of your BSFL farm will save you some pain later because you didn’t consider location, food source, or localized sub-climate.  This stage of planning may be the difference between an enjoyable experience and the misery of carrying buckets of food much further than necessary. Part 4 will give more detail on optimal growing conditions. Until the next episode…let’s get grubby
Larry Shier
 

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