Housefly larvae are usually much smaller than black soldier flies larvae. The housefly maggots writhe & wiggle in a slightly faster and more erratic movement–like a zigzag line. Whereas the BSF larvae inch forward & around like a softer wave and the movement of a caterpillar.
Comparing housefly & BSF movement, we can see that:
Housefly's movement video >> https://www.youtube.com/embed/KNcBQr3brbI?start=531&end=550
Black soldier fly's movement video >> https://www.youtube.com/embed/KrS-EPo-GQA?start=931&end=941
The housefly larvae we're seeing above are only 1 or 2 days old. Compared to days-old BSF larvae, these guys are smaller. You can see the size difference here:
Let's see another comparison:
Even if we leave the housefly larvae to grow into bigger pupae, they'll still be tiny compared to the BSF pupae. The housefly pupae size are like little black beans or grains whereas the BSF pupae are about an inch or so with more visible stripes on their bodies.
As adults, houseflies lay their eggs directly on food scraps while black soldier flies don't. They lay their eggs adjacent to the food scraps–between tree gaps or small crevices.
BSF vs Houseflies: Different Biology & Living Environment
Houseflies do well in a wider temperature range compared to black soldier flies. You'll see them more often in cooler times than the BSF. They love a more anaerobic environment with less oxygen. They reproduce fast & have a shorter life cycle than black soldier flies. For example, houseflies like places with stinky food stuff, more wet or have a more foul smell.
Black soldier flies, in contrast, do better in a more dry or slightly moist environment. They like a more aerobic place with plenty of oxygen to breathe, to exchange gases & to dissipate the heat. The places BSF larvae usually feed on have a less foul smell because of the steady oxygen supply. Sometimes, it even smells nice–like that of over-ripe fruits but not the yucky puke smell.
When Houseflies May Occur Around Your BSF Bin
When you're first starting your BSF colony, you may see houseflies visiting for the first 1-2.5 weeks. This is totally normal because the smell of the foods keeps them coming. Make sure not to leave too much excess foods in the bin. Just leave enough to establish your BSF population first.
When they are more crowded, the BSF larvae will actually shoo out the houseflies. They have a special pheromone/antibiotic for this job. From week 3 on, you will see much fewer houseflies around. After some time raising the BSF, the population of houseflies, insects or ants near by may naturally decrease as the BSF take over.
As you can see from the comparison pictures above, the houseflies usually occur during the larvae stage (cream larvae) & the pupae stage (black pupae). If this is a serious problem, try some microbial enzymes to spray them at the pupae stage. This enzyme kills off the housefly pupae while still keeping your BSF pupae alive.
If you'd like more info on how to keep houseflies or insects away from the BSF box, check out this post below with some helpful tips:
>> Blog post: How to keep houseflies away from BSF box
Hope this brief post has given you some ideas on how to identify houseflies and black soldier flies. With that said, have a good time raising and composting.
Responses to Readers' Questions
I tried to trap bsf but I failed. Is it possible that they are not in our locality? I am in Uganda
--> Thanks for your question. Let me ask some farmers in our group, they also live in Uganda and may have the answer for you.
Hello again, from their feedback, yes there are bsf in the wild of Uganda, as pretty much elsewhere in the world. From my limited experience, to attract bsf in the natural habitat, you could try starting with a small amount of larvae. The smell of their own specie may attract them to come. I hope this helps!
- Phuong Tim Cu Chi
- Nature's Always Right
- Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/34743731525/in/photostream/
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