Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Suburban Food Waste Disposal via Black Soldier Fly Larvae

Black Soldier Fly larvae have solved many problems relating to the disposal of food waste products for me. No longer do I have to collect grease in a special disposable sealed container to keep its scent from attracting houseflies or creating a mess in my garbage bin. No longer do I need a kitchen sink garbage disposal to dispose of fruit,vegetable and other waste that would otherwise smell and attract pests. No longer do I ever have to wash out my curbside garbage bin.

I simply pour the grease into and toss the food scraps into an open bottomed compost bin that sits on the ground under a shady bush next to my back porch. I dig a one foot depression in the center to catch liquids (the size actually depends on soil permeability). I put down a layer of leaves or grass clippings to begin with. I add my food scraps, etcetera in the center and add more of the  plant material. Repeat.

When you first start, I suggest you do not do so in the cold season. Once established, the soldier flies will remain established as long as you feed them. In the winter, the larvae are generally inactive (except on warm days) so the scraps will increase in depth. But since the weather is cold, there is no odor. Come Spring, the soldier fly larvae activity booms and the surrounding wildlife benefits as they eat the escaping larvae as they leave the bin to pupate.
[Note: Do not throw raw meat waste in the cold season. In warm weather, they'll devour raw meat quickly before it can smell. ]

If you might occasionally overpower their ability to consume what you give them, it'd be best to place the bin downwind. They'll target the stinkiest scraps first, so even then the odor would be of short duration. So, if you're slaughtering more chickens than usual, take this into account. And note that houseflies do not like the liquified conditions in the bottom of the bin. Indeed houseflies are somewhat repelled somehow by the presence of the larvae bin.

Note: When going on vacation, If you want to maintain a thriving population, I suggest you lay in a supply of food to be given to your larvae by whomever takes care of your house. I buy a big bag of birdseed at PetCo each June when it's on sale for this purpose. I finish off the bag in the winter by sharing it with the birds that no longer have soldier flies to eat.

During warm weather, the larvae leave the fly bin and are mostly picked off by birds in the day and toads at night. In the fly bin will be lizards that eat larvae (but they are so prolific that it doesn't matter). Thus the cycle of life is completed & strengthened by using food scraps in my "lazy man's compost bin"!

Note: I have two bins. I alternate between the two. The inactive one, I empty and use the very rich compost.

Black soldier flies:

For more, search:
Raising Black Soldier flies
Leaf mold composting