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Can I breed Black Soldier Fly from endemic populations?

 
Dominique Altidore
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Hi,

I'd like some Black Soldier Fly to feed my tilapia. I am in a 3rd world country and there's nowhere I can buy it. No postal service here either.

Someone told me I can leave a bucket of scraps out (with some air-holes), and Black Soldier Fly might show up naturally. Has anyone tried this?

How can I identify them? Should I look for larvae or flies?

Thanks.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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Unless you're in a very dry climate, or in the middle of an intense dry season in a dry/wet season climate, there should be plenty of soldier flies around. A compost pile or even an open, poorly managed latrine are good places to start looking. Mature soldier fly larvae are quite a bit larger than housefly maggots....up to an inch or more in length, and they like stuff that is already composting, not so much on fresh manure or dead animals (although they will feed on both of these with relish once present). A good bait for them is fermenting grain, which won't attract houseflies as much. The adult flies are unique, and resemble wasps more than other flies. Their only purpose is to mate and lay eggs, and they do not feed as adults. So they will not come to food or fresh manure, like houseflies....but are attracted to composting materials. When designing a bait station remember that they don't lay eggs directly in the bait but slightly off to the side or above, so that the baby maggots can get to the stuff easily, but the eggs themselves are less likely to fall prey to other insects already in the compost.....
 
Dominique Altidore
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Good news! I found the larvae in my compost heap!

Now the tricky bit, how do I set up a compost heap where Black Soldier Fly is the dominant species? I put the larvae I found in a bucket with some avocado peels, pumpkin skin, etc., but so far I'm getting mostly fruit flies. Do I just need to be patient, or is there something I can do at this stage to encourage BSF/discourage other species?
 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Around here more organic material = more bsf larvae. I have had bsf going in a bin very lightly covered with brown paper and other species will be in there too. The bsf became the dominant species in the bin without any encouragement other than food scraps. They eat really fast so compete readily with other decomposers.

If you added some of your compost that contained them to the bucket it will probably be a good start, just keep adding fresh materials and more larvae as you find it. If they are thriving you will start to see massive amounts of organic material being consumed.

And lots of these little ones.

 
Dominique Altidore
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It looks like fruit flies have outcompeted the BSF for now.

I guess I need to build a compost heap more conducive to BSF, and less so to fruit flies. Any suggestions how to go about this?

Zach, what was the purpose of the brown paper in your system?
 
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