Black soldier flies (BSF) can be used to efficiently treat bio-waste. Their larvae are incredibly efficient at converting waste into a good source of proteins & fats. About 1 kilo of larvae can consume & transform 10 kilos of garbage waste or organic matter. They eliminate the odor within 10-15 days. This is the only stage that the BSF larvae eat voraciously.
When the flies mature, they don't eat at all because their baby mouth-parts have transformed into a sort of hook-like shape. Adult soldier flies only drink, which is why they don't cross-contaminate or spread diseases like some other species. Many crowded cities are using BSF larvae to treat organic waste problems effectively.
There are some other useful applications of black soldier flies for farming and gardening. If you're curious, let's explore them together now:
Use #1: Renewable Animal Feed
Five-days-old BSF larvae are a fantastic treat for chickens. Some people call them a million-pet feed for a reason. Fish, shrimp, birds, quail, frogs, insects love these larvae. They are rich in proteins & fats. Their proteins have high lysine, an amino acid. The fats of BSF larvae contain lauric acid which can dissolve the outer coating of some viruses, bacteria (like Clostridium) and protozoa. These larvae are also found to be effective in deactivating viruses like Salmonella.
Some growers have noticed that aquaponic fish fed with supplemental larvae get to the size & weight of 1 kilo in about 4 months. The usual process to get a kilo of fish is 6 months.
Similarly, chicken farmers have got good results with this feed. The birds are strong with firm muscles & meat thanks to the chitin in the BSF exoskeleton. The color of the egg yolk is deep orange & tougher to break. With an amount of calcium in the nutritional content of the larvae, the egg shells are hardened for easier handling & shipping. Chickens develop beautiful feathers & are much more resilient even when caught in rain for 2-3 nights.
The best thing of all is that they can save a lot of money on pet feed. If you process and extract out the fat in the larvae, that oil can also be used as animal feed oil. Many or most parts of the BSF can be utilized for some purpose in the farm. And a BSF colony, once started, can roll on & on to give you good sustainable low-cost feed for a long time.
Use #2: Generating an Income Source
Black soldier flies also have a high economic value. In some countries, 1 kilo of BSF eggs can cost about $1,000–about $500/lb. To start a colony, you only need about 10 grams.
Their larvae can be sold for a good amount. A box of some thousand larvae is priced at around $30 depending on the quality & size. The dead skins or bodies of BSF are also utilized to make nutritional fertilizer. This little creature has opened the doors for many people to build a good income source.
Although fresh larvae may taste better for the pets, some people make the larvae into dried pellets. This works out well for longer shelf-life & easier shipping to far-away places. BSF then has been a good income source for many farms & families.
Use #3: Manure Management
Black soldier fly research actually started in the 20th century from a manure management finding. Growers observed that when black soldier fly population was present underneath chicken manure, housefly population decreased over time and there was less manure accumulation. From this insight, they started integrating BSF into building more BSF friendly manure pits (like having chickens above the BSF growing place to collect the manure & feed the larvae simultaneously).
Thus, if you combine the raising of BSF & chickens, the larvae can help you eliminate the task of cleaning chicken manure. The 4-day-old BSF larvae can consume chicken manure like a piece of cake. Some growers design a sort of catcher underneath the chicken cage where they put the larvae on. When the chickens poop down, the BSF will get to work night & day for about 15 days. The manure will get digesting leaving behind a much more bearable smell around the chicken coop.
And finally, many folks have used these BSF for:
Use #4: Composting
For families, you can try BSF for composting. You can get the juice as compost tea to water plants. The little amount of larvae poop can be harvested & used in the garden. It really helps if everyone is doing a little on their part in this whole eco-system.
Getting Started with BSF
Although the idea of raising flies may not be appealing to many people, BSF in particular can actually do more good than harm. The adult flies themselves don't have a mouth-part so they won't buzz around your food or spread diseases. People use their larvae as fish baits, for chicken feed or to treat tons of bio-waste in crowded cities.
For a small household scale, you can apply BSF in your compost bin. One of the most amazing benefits of utilizing BSF for composting is the speed. If you have these little creatures in, the compost can be done in about 2 weeks. Compared to the traditional composting way that could take 6-12 months, this is much faster. You'll then get your live BSF biomass ready for use however you like.
Hope this brief post has given you some ideas on the uses of BSF. If you're thinking about trying it out, then check out more posts in our Black Soldier Fly series. Thanks for swinging by & See you again next time.
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