Processing Waste | Getting Started – Let the Black Soldier Fly Have At It! : The Life and Times of BSF (Black Soldier Flies)
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Processing Waste | Getting Started – Let the Black Soldier Fly Have At It!

by Terry Green on 11/15/12

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind on using Black Soldier Flies (BSF) to recycle vegetal food scraps, cut grass and leafy yard debris. A small BSF processing unit housing BSF larvae and waste materials in one central self-contained plastic bin can be fabricated as in Fig. 1. Drill small holes around the perimeter of the bin to allow carbon dioxide to escape from the bin, and include a collection element in the processing unit for drawing off liquid generated as BSF larvae process the waste. This liquid is rich in ammonia (rapidly transformed in soil to nitrate), and it also has other useful trace elements that can be used to improve the quality of your garden soil.

image of homebuilt  Black Soldier fly food scrap processor
Fig. 1 BSF food scrap and yard debris processing unit. Copyright (c) 2012, Terry Green, All rights reserved.

A catch basin on which the food scrap recycling units rests can be filled with wood chips (pine shavings, bark dust, dry leaves, pebbles, etc. will work equally well). This provides a place for larvae to hide out on self-harvesting from the unit (Fig. 2). A lid should be used on the unit to maintain humidity, and to provide a neater appearance.
image of Black Soldier fly larvae hiding under wood shavings
Fig. 2. Pre-pupa hiding within wood chip basin beneath chips following self-harvest from a BSF food scrap unit. Copyright (c) 2012, Terry Green, All rights reserved.

Providing a hiding place for the larvae leaving the bin on entering the pre-pupae stage is beneficial. They are photophobic (e.g., avoid light) and will crawl about and away from the food scrap recycling unit in seeking a dry and dark place to hide out of sight of predators (birds, frogs, wasps, etc.).

By providing a dark and dry place underneath the recycling unit for them to hide, safe from predators and out of site, you should be able to contain the larvae. This will also help ensure maintenance of a steady supply of hatched adults in close proximity to your recycling unit who will mate and lay eggs in your unit, perpetrating its capacity to turnover waste.

If you have chickens, you can also feed the larvae recovered from the catch basin to your chickens. They are an excellent source of protein, lipid and calcium! Otherwise, periodically empty the catch basin outdoors as it fills up.

Leave the whole unit outdoors from late Spring through late Fall in Northern Climates, or year round in warmer climates. Adults typically emerge from their chrysalis after metamorphosis from their pupae, disappear into the nearby trees and bushes, mate, then return and lay fresh eggs in perpetrating the processing of waste added to recycling units left outdoors.

If you are not handy with tools, or don't want to fabricate your own BSF foodscrap recycling unit, or if you don't have the time, purchase an on-line recycling unit through our website under Products & Services ( Included for sale at this latter website are e-Books describing in detail how to construct food recycling units, and additional information on the management and propagation of Black Soldier flies and larvae.

Comments and questions are always welcome. Post your comments to this or any other blog of interest, or, alternatively, simply contact us at DipTerra (

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