Black Soldier Fly Processing of Biodegradable Wastes : The Life and Times of BSF (Black Soldier Flies)
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Black Soldier Fly Processing of Biodegradable Wastes

by Terry Green on 11/14/12

Black Soldier Flies (BSF), voracious consumers of biodegradable wastes, are extremely well adapted for burrowing into tight places, wide variations in oxygen tension, changes in pH (both acidic and alkaline environments), and temperature fluctuations. They aggressively consume and thrive on a wide variety of biodegradable wastes including food and vegetal scrap, agricultural debris, wet grasses, weeds,  leaves, rotting produce, etc. They are extremely beneficial to the environment, a valuable source of high quality protein and lipids of proven value in feedstocks, especially as a soybean substitute in certain fish diets. They should not be confused with maggots of the common housefly.

image of Black Soldier fly larvae feeding on and recycling food scrap into insect biomass.
Image of BSF feeding on vegetal and food scrap waste, assimilating nutrient wastes into insect biomass while disposing of the biodegradable residues. Copyright (c) 2012, Terry Green, All rights reserved.

BSF are quite distinct from the common housefly most people think of on hearing the term “fly”.  Because of their appearance as adults, they are sometimes mistakenly thought to be wasps due to their narrow “wasp-like” abdomen and because of the presence of a large ovipositor extending from their rear abdomen that to some looks like a stinger tail.  They however do not sting, do not spread diseases, and are harmless - one of Nature’s many cleaning crews routinely recycling organic matter efficiently and quietly behind the scene.

Adults have no sucking mouth parts on emerging from their chrysalis. They live only long enough (about three to five days) to mate and lay eggs before dying. Females lay their eggs in clutches near decaying waste from which the larva will hatch and crawl into the waste on which they then feed and grow in repeating their natural life cycle.

image of newly hatched Black Soldier fly larvae.
Image of newly hatched BSF larvae (approx. 1 - 2 mm in length) only a few days of age propagated from an in-house nursery after emerging from egg clutches. Copyright(c) 2012, Terry Green, All rights reserved.

It is feasible to generate very dense populations of larvae in a relatively short interval of time through propagation techniques favorable for their cultivation. Hundreds of thousands can be produced from in-house nurseries set up to operate year round in scaling up processing of biodegradable wastes, making it feasible to put BSF larvae to work in processing home food scrap wastes, and, in principal, vegetal and agricultural wastes even on an industrial scale.  Learn more on this novel biotechnology in blogs that follow at DipTerra (www.dipterra.com).

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