After reading Murray Hallam's (do a search for Murray Hallam's aquaponics) article about black soldier flies I decided to build my own compost harvesting unit. I build a wooden stand to hold a 6 gallon bucket with a screw lid (the type that swimming pool chlorine comes in) at 30 degrees. I then put my kitchen compost including meat into the bucket and added a fish head. Within a few days I had an abundance of black soldier fly larva falling out into a catch pan that the chickens love. the larva don't carry disease nor to they ever eat again in their lives. They don't like you, your pets or your house but they are extremely good for your chickens. Best composter I have ever had. If anyone is interested I can take a few pictures and drawings of what I built.
You tube has several good videos about how to build your own soldier fly unit. They're great. When I butcher rabbits they consume all of the ofal in only a week or so. The larvae purge themselves of all food in their system before they emerge from the bucket so they are free of any bacteria from the culture when they emerge. An odd thing about soldier fly is that they hatch with no mouth parts. They don't eat after hatching so they don't bother you or your food. Their only purpose is to find a mate and lay their eggs. They die immediately after that.
I started a worm compost box last year. It has since turned into a soldier fly larva box. I had to move it away from the house, i had a ton of the fies in the basement. Now it is a daily gathering spot for the local crows. I onlu wish i could have some chickens...stupid hoa. Anyway, they make quick work of all my families kitchen waste.
oracle wrote: I don't understand why the larva want to crawl up the gutter or out of holes in the bucket form? Why do they not just stay in and hatch inside of the compost/slop.
Fascinating critters. They have to burrow into the soil to pupate and hatch. When they are ready to crawl out of the bucket they first purge themselves of any food in their digestive system and then crawl toward a light source to emerge. Their mouth parts change into a sort of shovel arrangement to help them dig into the soil. Once dug in they pupate and form a hard shell. This is the form in which they are sold in pet stores as "Phoenix Worms" to feed to reptiles and fish. If they are prevented from digging in they will form the pupal stage in the catch bucket so long as there is something like bran for them to hide in. Chickens will eagerly consume them in either the grub stage or the pupal stage.
I like that unit. It's easier to make than the more complicated one on you tube and drops them right in front of the chickens. If you are selling them to pet stores though, the one on you tube is more efficient at gathering them.
BSF are an amazing little bug. If you plan to raise poultry they are indespensable. I'd say they have major potential for a permaculture business too. Composting organic waste, selling compost, raising chickens or other poultry and selling BSF larva all out of one operation.