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Insect-based Processing of Biodegradable Waste
​In early August we visited a farm in Chico (California).  Here we found an enthusiastic 7 year old boy (Andrei) looking forward to recycling food waste into feed for his father's chickens.  The pictures Andrei took were taken with a Cannon camera borrowed from a friend.  His BSF nursery and incubators are now up and running processing about 10 lb of food waste each day and he is producing up to 1-2 lb BSF larvae per day.  Andrei now keeps 20 chicken very, very happy.    
Image of adult Black Soldier fly (picture provided by Andrei).
Black Soldier fly eggs seen on lid section of food scrap recycling bin (picture taken by Andrei).
Picture of Black Soldier fly prepupa taken by Andrei after it exited his food scrap bin
Andrei showing off his Black Soldier fly nursery enclosure built from mosquito net and PVC pipe.
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Fetheya (age 10) combined composting with BSF larvae to process food waste in her backyard.  Fetheya lives with her family in Tigard, Oregon, in a nice house in a temperate climate with yard where kids play on a grass lawn, in a tree-house and in a garden around the edge of the yard. Fetheya set out to test as a school project the practicality of using different types of backyard composting. One of these processes was based on BSF larvae using a composting bin purchased from Home Depot. 

Here are some pictures from her project. Larvae munched away at the food waste and turned kitchen scraps into a thick black mush within a day or two. Her Dad had however some issues with the larvae escaping the bin and going out into the yard and under the garbage can. To stop the larvae from crawling around in plain sight, she and her Dad cleared the area around the bin and dug a small trench 2-3 inches deep by 6 inches wide and installed a wooden edge about 1 inch thick sticking up out above the ground 2-3 inches. She filled the trench with bark chips. She observed that most of the larvae burrowed down into the wood chips and remained there quite content as they turned into pupae. Very few larvae escaped into the yard, and those that did were fast preyed upon by birds, spiders, wasps, frogs and possibly toads. Fetheya noticed wasps feeding on dead flies near the bin and in the yard. Clearly Nature recycles many times over given the chance! 

Adult BSF hid in the trees and bushes and were calm and docile, apparently knowing full well not to make themselves present for other predators to snack on.  Fetheya won second place in her category (Plant Sciences) on submitting her science project to the Intel NW Science Exp (nwse.org)!

An example of a composting bin adapted to process food waste using Black Soldier Fly larvae.
Image of BSF larvae exiting composting bin.
BSF larvae looking after exiting the bin for a place to hide and pupate.
To contain larvae dig a small trench around the bin and add 1 to 2 inches of bark chips or rocks.
 Image of a bin surrounded by mulch that encourages BSF larvae to to pupate under the mulch.
Image of mulch/wood barrier - very few larvae crawl beyond its edge.
Image of a spider looking for tasty larvae - spiders, herps and wasps are common predators of Black Soldier flies..
Image of BSF larvae feeding on and converting food waste into exceptional organic residue and fertilizer.
Image of an female adult Black Soldier Fly near bin looking for a place to lay eggs.
Andrei, Chico, CA.
Fetheya, Tigard, OR.

BSF (Black Soldier Fly) Forums |People & Places