To attract black soldier fly, you can use foods that give off quite a strong smell. Rotting fish, chicken, bad eggs, old veggies are good attractants. This signals to the mother flies around your natural environment that there's good food for her babies. She'll then be naturally attracted to come.
A benefit of attracting wild BSF in your local area is that their bodies have had some time adapting to the local environment. Thus, making it easier to survive and thrive in local conditions. There are some simple steps to attract BSF in your area. Let's check them out right below.
Step 1: Preparing the Attractant
Black soldier flies like the smell of smelly foods or waste. In nature, they usually gather around quite a lot near outdoor toilets or waste piles. Or especially during the season when the fishermen dry their caught fish outside.
Similarly, you can use stuff like animal guts, organs, bad fermented foods, chicken poop, veggies or spent grains to attract them. The bodies of dead BSF are a good attractant. The leachate (the juice) coming from the BSF leftover frass may also attract some pregnant female black soldier flies.
If you use the foods, it's advisable to pre-treat the foods with some enzyme or ferment them for 4-5 days before using. This helps reduce the smell that many of us can't stand quite a bit.
Alternatively, you can soak some pet kibble (dry dog food) for one day then use it as an attractant. There's something in the smell of this foodstuff that helps attract the BSF. Coffee grounds are also a possible choice. It works relatively better than brewery waste for this purpose.
If you place the attractant outdoors, the smell may not last as long as the indoor cage surrounded by some wire or mesh. To make the attractant smell last for longer, put in some fish fins or again the dead black soldier fly bodies. That'll be really appealing and can attract the flies effectively.
After we've prepared the attractant, we can move on to:
Step 2: Making the Egg Collectors
Black soldier flies usually like to lay eggs in the crevices of wood. This helps keep their eggs protected from other predators & keep them from drying out. To make the egg nests or collectors, you can use cardboard pieces, wood stacks, aquarium bio-balls or the craft wood sticks (or tongue depressors).
The good thing about using wood pieces is that you can re-use them as many times as you like for a long time. You may not need to wash or wash very lightly the wood stacks. As they have gathered the smell of previous oviposition, it may signal to later flies generations that the wood stack may be a safe place to lay eggs.
When it's time to collect the eggs, you can just take the whole stack and place it over the feeding bed prepared for the young hatchlings.
After you've made the stacks, place them adjacent to the food source you've prepared. BSF will lay eggs adjacent to the food source & not directly on it. So this is a good location to place your egg collectors.
Between each piece of wood stacked together, leave about 0.8-1 mm. If you have a steady stream of eggs to collect each day, it's good to color-code the stacks with some colored ties–each for one day of the week.
Finally, our last step can be:
Step 3: Place the Attractant + Egg Collectors Outside
If you place your attractant box outside, make sure the environment around it is quite clear. Meaning there's no trees with holes or little gaps in the trunk around. These might distract the mother flies. She may lay the eggs there & not directly into your prepared stacks.
A Note: The Smell Of The Same Specie
On one occasion, by chance, one female soldier fly from the natural environment landed on one of my boxes full of living wiggling Bsf larvae. It was a beautiful occurrence I got to share with my dad. I always remember this event and it did take me a bit by surprise pleasantly then (I was quite happy to see her as it was the first time ever).
So I guess then, from a thousand miles away, she senses the smell of her own specie (Hermetia Illucens) and decides to fly near / pay a visit. Possibly then, some bsf may attract other bsf to come, similar to a restaurant with crowded diners could attract more curious customers to come in and try the food.
The smell could also be why some farmers separate the larvae room (larvarium) and the adult fly cage so the smell won't attract the flies to come and lay eggs randomly in the larvarium. This bsf-attract-bsf is one thing you could try.
A Funny Occurrence
One time, when my mom was taking me on a motorbike (I was sitting at the back), a BSF black soldier fly landed on her helmet!!!
It was so beautiful. At first look, I briefly scanned by and thought it was a normal fly or what is it, what is this insect it has two antennas. Looking at it for 2 seconds later, especially at its stomach, I suddenly realized it was a black soldier fly oh my god. It was really a black soldier fly!!!! I could tell by looking at its stomach. It was so beautiful. I cannot explain with words.
The fly hangs around for several seconds, I look at it with two of my loving eyes. Then it takes its wings and flies off. Beautiful. I didn't know bsf hang around in that area of the city where we live. I told my mom of the occurrence. But she seemed indifferent. :)
Just now I think I'll ask for her advice, Mom what kind of shampoo do you use? Why does a black soldier fly land on your helmet? He/she must love the scent of your hair. Haha.
Anyway, but now:
Depending on your local region, the result may or may not be as expected. If there are BSF living around the area, then this may give you some good result. It is a fun experiment however.
But do look out for houseflies, ants or other insects eyeing the foods. With that said, hope these steps have given you some quick ideas to get started. Good luck & have a good hunt.
Responses to Readers' Questions
I have been using chicken droppings but the results are discouraging for 2months now I haven't even trapped a single egg, what might be the problem?
--> Thanks for your question. To understand your case correctly, so you already have bsf and you are trying to trap the eggs from them, not trapping bsf themselves in the natural environment. Is it correct?
If it's the first case, then can you check if the flies are mating? Please also check the light source and some moisture. The light helps them see their partners for mating. And the moisture (70% is ideal and from 40-80% is also okay) can help lengthen their life span.
Besides chicken droppings, are there any other cheap available alternatives for the attractant? Can you try? Something smelly will work.
Also I'm thinking if you make the wood pieces to collect the eggs. As the flies like a safe home for their to-be-born, please make sure the gap between the wood pieces are not too wide. It may discourage the flies from depositing eggs there as their eggs may fall out. A gap about 1 mm would be okay. Sometimes the aroma of the wood might be overpowering, like cedar which is quite aromatic. So make sure you choose less aromatic wood types.
Hmm for now, those are most of the things I could think of that could go wrong. Could you have a check then? If there's any else, please send me some more details if you could for a fuller picture. I understand that the results have been discouraging, but don't give up! Many have done it, I believe so you can.
Hope this helps somehow, keep us posted & See you again next time!
Some possible helpful resources:
- Why BSF not mating: https://zenyrgarden.com/black-soldier-fly-not-mating/
- How to make BSF love cage: https://zenyrgarden.com/how-to-make-black-soldier-fly-breeding-box-love-cage/
Share or pin this post!