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bin full of black soldier fly larvae

 
ellen kardl
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I was alarmed, ALARMED I tell ya, to open up my bin today and see the soil just ROILING with these things when I began to turn the pile. THOUSANDS—not that I am counting. Yeah, I know they are beneficial digesters, but YUCK. I also have a VERY healthy earthworm population in the bin (somehow they don't seem so gross). The compost has come along very nicely this year; lots of turning, and I've been adding to it all summer, and now I think I'm going to stop because its a) full and b) getting cold.

So my question is: are these critters going to multiply? Its a closed bin. Is the bin going to be solid larvae in the spring? Can they just die off and add their nice little innards to the mix? Should I do anything? Guaranteed I'm not putting this on my plants as is

HELP!!!

Edited to add: okay, calmer now after reading the recommended website ( blacksoldierflyblog.com ). It was the massive quantity of them that freaked me out. Maybe these little dudes are WHY my compost has digested so quickly lately. But still, if anyone can answer the above questions, I would appreciate it very much. Should I keep feeding them over the winter? I'm in the PNW, Portland, OR to be exact. It's probably not going to freeze.
 
Alder Burns
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wow, someone in the PNW with soldier flies happy? I would think it too cool for them! I have tried twice to get them started here, in northern CA, with mailorder grubs, and could never get a thriving colony going. I think they are just not present in the wild landscape so it's difficult to get the multiple generations necessary to build up a really rocking colony. A few have trouble even with our cool summer nights.....and no way would they come through winter, unless I provided supplemental heat somehow. A big colony generates it's own warmth. I think they will sort of go dormant when it gets cold but should survive unless there's a hard freeze.
 
ellen kardl
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I am definitely a dope! In my defense, it "looked scary" when the soil was heaving about they way it was--there is quite a colony of them in the bin! I had thrown in half of a watermelon a few days ago and it's nearly gone now. I've heard about these legendary insects for several years, just never seen them. They don't look like flies at all, which is what I was expecting; I just thought they were strange looking wasps. But having now spent the afternoon reading up on em, what a treasure! I'm very excited to be hosting them. I will give them lots and lots of food and larvae love

Anyway, I KNEW I'd find out about them here, which is the first place I checked!
 
john vance
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Definitely BSFL - Be careful! I have been having them in my bins as of late.
I know they can be ok but you DO NOT want them taking over your bins.
They are a very VIGOROUS composter and as a result, generate lots of
heat - too much of which will run your redworms out of town.
I suggest picking the BSFL out of your bin and/or at least keep it to a
manaageable level - believe me they are way too hot and also much more
vigorous composters than RWs.
You can also take some slices of bread soaked in milk and place them on
top of your worm bin and the larvae will come up after the bread - you can
then pick them out and do what you like with them. Leave the bread for
only 2-3 days. If you want BSFL - and they do seem to be beneficial - you
should really consider saving them in their own space. They will simply take
over AND overheat any RW bin. My 2 cents.
There are many, many videos on Youtube about BSFL if you want to know more.
 
Julia Winter
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Ellen, I'm curious. What happened to the BSFL after all these freezes we've had?
 
ellen kardl
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Hi Julia. I still see a lot of em. They aren't moving, so alive, dormant, or dead, I do not know (they look alive to me though). The microclimate the bin is in probably would take a lot to freeze up; it's by the house and is sheltered on 2 sides. Everything is pretty much composted, so I'm going to leave this one alone for the winter, and fill the other bins.
 
bob day
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Location: Central Virginia USA
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i had a bin invaded by the bsfl a while ago, and did notice the food disappearing more rapidly, they seemed to want out of the bin and i had larvae crawling everywhere, i keep a guinea in the greenhouse (it's a long story) where the worms are, and sort of hoped she might find some and chow down

at any rate it has been pretty cool out there at night and the larvae seem to have disappeared for the time being

i was a bit worried about the chemical attractant/ repulsant they give off and wondered if it would drive the worms out of the bin, and i have noticed some worms scaling the sides, but no mass exodus that i can tell

if you want guinea (chicken) food, or just want to digest tablescraps, the bsfl might be wonderful, but do they produce the same beneficial bacteria etc the worm castings and worm tea are so famous for?
 
ellen kardl
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Very good question. I really don't know. My main goal is to get rid of massive amounts of vegetable matter first, and to have useable compost second. I'm in a rental house, and the yard is mostly paved or "landscaped" with bark mulch over weed barrier, so I don't have a huge use for finished compost in terms of real soil amendment. I know, what a waste My garden consisted of about 3 dozen 10 gallon "smart" (fiber) pots (tomatoes, potatoes, cukes, beans, peas) and 2 dozen 5 gallon pots (eggplant, herbs, squash).
 
Julia Winter
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I'd love to find out what you've got left in April. It's supposed to get REALLY cold tonight...
 
bob day
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Location: Central Virginia USA
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all those container plants puts me in mind of a vermicosting ideal--a specimen plant of your choice- lets say a lemon tree- inside a much bigger circular enclosure, with seats around the specimen able to be lifted up to feed the worms underneath, and each seat represents the rotation of the worms as they move from one area to the next following the food, with the specimen plant growing like crazy

but on a simpler note, you have to be using all the castings and tea to fertilize all those containers
 
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