If you need a primer on what black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are, peruse the background write up I posted a few weeks back and then join us below.
As I mentioned before, black soldier flies, particularly in their larval state, are tireless, delightful eating machines specializing in the avid consumption things that most people find revolting. Yes, they are nightmare fuel, but ridiculously useful nightmare fuel!
With this special talent in mind (and after a few unfortunate mishaps with worms) I decided that rather than tend a bunch of moody, fragile, pH sensitive California red wrigglers, I would embrace the full-throttled power binge of kitchen scrap decomposition offered by the BSFL!
I swear, if you squint they almost look like tiny Looney Toons Tasmanian Devils in there, just chewing through my old broccoli stalks…almost…well, not really, but I don’t care any more, they’re awesome!
Since I live in Central Texas where black soldier flies are already present, and they feed on smelly nasty stuff, my whole plan was simply to create a space where they would be safe to feed and reproduce, and then to attract them to that space with the right kind of bait.
- The Right Space:
A 5 gallon (15 liter) bucket with a snug, latch-able lid, with 3/16″-1/4″ holes drilled ever few inches around the sides and in the bottom for drainage.
This particular bucket happens to be one that I scavenged from a local donut truck and was previously filled with vanilla frosting. Let that sink in…5 gallons of vanilla creme frosting…
Then I drilled the holes and used it to fruit pink oyster mushrooms before “upcycling” it into this experimental BSFL Biodigestor!
- The Right Bait:
Rotten meat or roadkill will get the job done for sure, but I have seen a pile of rotten potatoes (like the ones that started to stink after they sprouted eyes and grew but finally gave up in the very back of your pantry) do an exceptional job at attracting BSFL if you aren’t in the mood for rotting meat. So will pile of wet dog food as long as it stays wet and no one messes with it…like in a bucket.
Whatever your rotting thing of choice, it will need to stink, you should make peace with that part, so this is best done outside.
I just left a week’s worth of leftovers from the kitchen (and I mean everything from bones to broccoli) in a little tupperware container under the sink for another week with the lid sealed (that’s a great way to kick start the anaerobic decomposition).
Pro tip: Don’t open it in the house before you take it outside.
Okay, checklist time:
- You have your bucket with holes all around and in the bottom.
- You have your rotten kitchen scraps.
- Next: place some kind of coarse material in the bottom of the bucket before placing your smelly material bait inside on top of it.
(I used wheat straw and leaf litter) Because the BSFL are attracted to anaerobic stinky stuff, but they need air to breathe and ventilation to cool off their hot chomping (seriously, like tiny furnaces))
- Dig a hole that your bucket can fit about 2/3 down into, leaving some of the holes above ground level for black soldier flies to fly in and out of and BSFL to crawl out of when the time is right.
- Dig a little extra and put some more of the coarse organic material at the bottom of the hole before you put the bucket down into it. This will help avoid any persistent anaerobic pockets beneath the bucket as well as allow room for other decomposers like those moody little earthworms better access to the byproducts of the BSFL and their hard work.
- Snug the bucket down into the hole and pile the dirt and whatever mulch you have around it, making sure to leave quite a few holes exposed and above the soil level.
- If you haven’t already, put that lid on, tightly!
If you don’t, you are solely responsible for the dogs, cats, possums, raccoons and children that will undoubtedly descend upon that bucket, string it’s foul contents all over the place (your place) before consuming them and then, consequently, vomiting them back up everywhere that they missed on the first pass. I’m serious, dogs live for this! Even tiny, domesticated, pineapple-headed chihuahuas will seek this nasty out and roll in right in front of you. That’s not on me! You have been warned!
- Wait, Watch and Listen for these tiny little miracle munchers to show up!
I installed mine in the summer. The seasons have changed to winter, almost spring.
Stay tuned for my notes and ideas on how to keep BSFL going strong.
Thanks for reading!