- Approximately 45,000 larvae will consume 24 kg of swine manure in 14 days
- In addition to being a good source of oil and protein for animal feed, black soldier fly larvae have the potential of improving organic waste into a rich fertilizer.
- Soldier flies also have two translucent "windows" located on the first abdominal segment.
- As the larvae mature they crawl out of the basin, thereby self-harvesting themselves, and are subsequently available as livestock feed.
- The larvae can reach 27 mm in length and 6 mm in width. They are a dull, whitish color with a small, projecting head containing chewing mouthparts.
- Larvae pass through six instars and require approximately 14 days to complete development
- During larval development, black soldier fly larvae are insatiable feeders. As adults they do not need to feed and rely on the fats stored from the larval stage
- The female black soldier fly deposits a mass of about 500 eggs
- The eggs hatch into larvae in about four days
- Each oval shaped egg is about 1 mm in length, and pale yellow or creamy white in color
- Two days after adult emergence from the pupal case, mating can occur.
- A male black soldier fly intercepts a passing female in mid-air and they descend in copula
- Male soldier flies utilize lekking sites, where they await female soldier flies. These sites are defended against other male soldier flies.
- Members of the soldier fly family Stratiomyidae can range in color from yellow, green, black or blue, with some having a metallic appearance.
- Black soldier flies frequent agricultural settings because the large amounts of organic waste left by livestock offer abundant sites that meet their reproductive needs.
- In natural breeding sites (i.e. carrion) black soldier flies lay their eggs in moist organic material.
- The family Stratiomyidae comprises 260 known species in North America
- In the southeastern United States, the black soldier fly is abundant during late spring and early fall, and has three generations per year in Georgia
- While common in the continental United States, this fly is found throughout the Western Hemisphere.
- The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (Linnaeus), is a sleek looking fly that many confuse with a wasp. However, like most flies, the black soldier flies only have two wings (wasps have four) and does not possess a stinger
- Although the loud buzzing they create when flying is enough to concern many people, adult soldier flies pose no danger.
- Black soldier flies are considered to be sanitary, as they're designed to break down the bacteria in their food.
- They're so efficient at this that there's no bacteria in their waste once they've digested it.
- In fact, to survive they've had to develop an odour that repels other household pests from them.
- BSFL contain up to 43% of protein and are rich in calcium and other nutrients.
- In fact, you can even create flours from the insect themselves. They're perfect for those who are looking to obtain their protein from more ethically sound sources than regular farming.
- Those that have tried the black soldier fly larvae say that when cooking it, they smell somewhat like potatoes. When you eat them, they taste nutty and meaty, with a texture of soft meat.
- In fact, they eat twice their own body weight every single day, so they can grow at a hugely accelerated rate.
- As a species, they're not known to fly far as they have weak wings, and they're not averse to being picked up.
- The BSF larva is exceptionally good at converting feed into food. You may use 10 kg of feed to make 1 kg of beef and 2 kg of feed to make 1 kg of mealworms. To produce 1 kg Black soldier larvae you’ll need only around 1.5 kg of feed!
- The Black soldier fly larva has a life cycle of only 6 weeks. Including egg, larva, pupa and fly stage. By comparison, mealworm use 9 weeks on the same process.
- They'll eat almost any organic matter and thrive on it.
- In fact, you can produce a ton of larvae in a farm that's the size of a SMART car!
- Farmers, whether they're farming the flies for animal or human consumption, find that they can feed their flies anything that can't be used elsewhere. This farmer, for example, found that he can feed his flies brewery grain waste, or waste from ethanol production.
- Farming black soldier flies is one of the best ways to deal with food waste that can't go anywhere else.
- Flies can be beneficial and necessary, aiding in controlling other insect pests, acting as pollinators, recyclers and scavengers, and they are also a part of the food chain.
- The multi-beneficial black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is probably the best-known member of the Stratiomyidae family in the Diptera order. Diptera is taken from the Greek "di," which means two, and "ptera" meaning wings, as most flies only have two wings.
- Also, this species makes the breeding areas of houseflies less desirable.
- Gender-wise, the female's abdomen is reddish at the top and the male's abdomen is rather bronze.
- Black soldier fly larvae are scavengers and thrive on many kinds of decomposing organic matter, including algae, carrion, compost heaps, manure, mold, plant refuse, and the waste products of beehives.
- These gluttonous little creatures are able to digest organic compound before the compounds have time to decompose, thereby immediately eliminating odor. The black soldier fly larva's digestive system leaves behind a fraction of the original weight and volume of waste.
- Secondly, this non-pest larvae converts the manure's nutrients into 42% protein and 35% fat feedstuff.
- It can be ground up and fed to earthworms or red worms for a second round or just used as compost.
- In addition, many experts believe that the high calcium content of the larvae (also called "phoenix worms") may halt or reverse the effects of metabolic bone disease.
- Thirdly, the larva's eating style discourages the development of pest flies. As large populations of black soldier fly larvae churn manure, they make it more liquid and less suitable for, not only egg-laying (oviposition) by the pest fly, but the actual development of the pest fly's larvae, thus reducing them substantially.
- Within as little as two weeks of hatching, these little animals will grow to 15,000 times their size. That’s like a baby chick becoming the size of a fully-grown tiger in the time it takes you to grow a moustache.
- They're eating machines. They can eat over twice their own body weight every day. That’s the equivalent of an average human eating over 1400 hot dogs.
- They're known to survive up to two hours immersed in pure rubbing alcohol and can be centrifuged at 2000 G’s (200 times that of a fighter jet) without harming them in any way.
- The larvae range in size from 1/8 to 3/4 of an inch (3 to 19 millimeters). Although they can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, their longest shelf life is achieved at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius).
- The adult fly is a mimic, very close in size, color, and appearance to the organ pipe mud dauber wasp
- The larvae are sometimes found in association with carrion, and have significant potential for use in forensic entomology.
- The larvae can feed quickly, from 25 to 500 mg of fresh matter per larva per day, and with minimal disturbance on a wide range of decaying organic materials, such as rotting fruits and vegetables, coffee bean pulp, distillers' grains, fish offal, corpses (they are used for forensic purposes), and particularly animal manure and human excreta
- In ideal conditions, larvae become mature in 2 months, but the larval stage can last up to 4 months when not enough feed is available.
- At the end of the larval stage (prepupa), the larva empties its digestive tract and stops feeding and moving
- The duration of the pupal stage is about 14 days but can be extremely variable and last up to 5 months
- The black soldier fly is an extremely resistant species capable of dealing with demanding environmental conditions, such as drought, feed shortage or oxygen deficiency
- In aquaculture, using feeds based on black soldier fly larvae open additional marketing opportunities for farmers as some customers are opposed to the use of fishmeal in aquaculture feeds
- It is also necessary to maintain a year-round breeding adult colony in a greenhouse with access to full natural light. The greenhouse must be a minimum of 66 m3 to allow for the aerial mating process
- Ranges of optimal temperatures, for mating and ovipositing, of 24-40°C or 27.5-37.5°C have been reported
- Wide ranges of relative humidity are tolerated: e.g. 30-90%
- Hermetia illucens is native from the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate zones of America. The development of international transportation since the 1940s resulted in its naturalization in many regions of the world
- For instance, larvae can reduce the accumulation of manure from laying hens and pigs by 50% or more without extra facilities or added energy
- In Costa Rica reduction values of 65-75% have been observed in field trials with household waste
- In confined bovine facilities, the larvae were found to reduce available phosphorous by 61-70% and nitrogen by 30-50%
- Their presence is also believed to inhibit ovipositing by the housefly
- For instance, they have been shown to reduce the housefly population of pig or poultry manure by 94-100%
- According to a 2013 United Nations report, insects already make up part of the diets of around 2 billion people worldwide
- A group of researchers at Texas A&M has even figured out how to put BSFL to sleep for long periods of time and "wake them up" when it's time to put them to work eating waste.
- BSFL have a 1.55:1 Calcium:Phosphorus ratio making them highly desired for the staple feeding of various Reptiles, as they require higher levels of calcium if not exposed to UVB.
- BSFL will not bite you or your pet.
- BSFL are active and will create feeding interest from your pets
- BSFL can be cooled to further continue their longevity until fed to your pet.
- You do not have to feed or water your BSFL.
- In one year, a single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans
- Jeff Tomberlin, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, said the bug industry could “save lives, stabilize economies, create jobs and protect the environment.”
- On its 14-day journey from hatchling to pupa, a single larva will grow nearly an inch long and increase its weight by a factor of 10,000. That’s akin to an eight-pound baby swelling to the size of a 40-ton humpback whale.
- They binge eat to store up nutrients for their two-week life span as adults, when they typically don’t eat anything at all.
- The only organic materials they haven’t had luck with are bones, hair and pineapple rinds, he said.
- In China, giant facilities owned by a company called JM Green process at least 50 tons of food waste a day with the help of black soldier flies.
- A 2011 U.N. report detailed how rotting food emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accounting for about 7 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But when maggots consume food waste, they take all that carbon with them.
- Soldier flies are “where carbon goes to die,” Tomberlin said. “It goes into this system and comes out the other end as all these beneficial ingredients.”
- The soldier fly solves that problem. Tomberlin’s adviser, Sheppard, discovered they are extremely high in calcium — 50 times more per gram than mealworms and crickets
- Another challenge for soldier fly farmers is that larvae are surprisingly mischievous. A wet grub can scale any surface, from wood to glass, so growers have to maintain specific humidity levels to prevent them from getting damp, escaping their confines and generally running amok.
- An acre of land used to raise soldier fly colonies can produce more than 130,000 pounds of protein per year, according to various peer-reviewed estimates. That’s several orders of magnitude greater than the per-acre protein yield of cattle (about 40 pounds), soybeans (950 pounds) or chickens (1,800 pounds).
- The yields are so high because soldier fly colonies can be stacked vertically, five to 10 per floor, in a way that isn’t possible with cattle or field crops. The fast-growing larvae also can be harvested dozens of times per year.
- Black soldier fly meal only won approval as fish and poultry feed in 2018.
- Koutsos said EnviroFlight and companies such as Enterra in Canada and Protix in the European Union are working to win regulatory approval for using the meal in food for other animals, including swine and even cats and dogs.
- More than 90 percent of those fisheries are either fully exploited or overfished, meaning that as the world’s population grows, there will be more demand for alternative protein sources.
- “There’s no question that [soldier fly] meal is much more expensive right now than fishmeal,” Koutsos said. But fishmeal is becoming more expensive, and soldier fly technology is becoming cheaper. The goal, she said, is “to be at or below fishmeal [price] in five years.”
- “Twenty years ago, I would have laughed” at the idea of feeding the world with bugs, said Fluker, the Louisiana cricket farmer. He recently expanded into soldier fly production and discovered the grubs will eat the frass produced by his millions of crickets. He said he views insect farming as “a vital link to sustaining the world’s feed needs.”
- The U.N. agrees: It forecast in a 2013 report that insect farming would have to play a key role — both as animal feed and to feed people — if the world is going to be fed sustainably in coming decades.
- One potential path to human consumption is via insect-based protein powders, which can be mixed with other foods, thus lessening the ick factor.
- Courtright isn't just an insect enthusiast. His company, EnviroFlight, aims to turn these black soldier fly larvae into a low-cost, high-protein feed for livestock, starting with fish. "Each bin will produce upwards of 40 pounds of live insects every 10 days," says Courtright. Because these can be stacked five tall, "every 10 days, we produce the protein equivalent of one pig in a 7-square-foot space," he says with a satisfied grin.
- Much of the traditional livestock feed produced by the $370 billion global industry is composed of crops such as corn and soybeans, which are expensive and compete for resources with human food. Livestock feed accounts for 60 percent to 70 percent of food production costs. Even fishmeal, a fish-based ingredient used for farmed fish, pigs, and chickens, can be costly. In the past 10 years, the price has increased by 200 percent, according to World Bank data.
- "It takes three tons of fishmeal to raise one ton of fish,"
- It was a small setback. Within two weeks, Courtright had rebuilt the mating chambers and was rearing flies again. It was a hard lesson, but it proved he could replicate the crucial mating process. By the end of 2010, he began staffing up, pitching customers, and taking on investors.
- When the larvae reach about 2 centimeters in length, workers cook them in industrial-size ovens and grind them into a powder for feed meal. EnviroFlight has been working for the past year on improving density--getting more feeding chambers into a space, stacked one on top of the other. "I think I've cracked the code on how to do this in a high-density factory building. You could do this anywhere--in Brooklyn, in Nairobi," he says.
- BSF are known for their ability to devour waste. Just one square meter’s worth of BSFL can go through 15 Kilograms of waste per day.
- After hatching, a BSF will grow to more than 15,0000 times its size in as little as two weeks. Which is basically like going from pouring the foundation to finishing a supertall skyscraper in a blink. That’s some powerful protein!
- The Black Soldier Fly isn’t just a reptile food that’s environmentally-friendly, toxin-free, and a sustainable source of high-value nutrients with a low environmental impact — it’s also a really cool bug
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