Omg– Am I Raising Maggots or Black Soldier Fly Larvae…?

by Rose

I shared a week and a half ago, how we ordered a batch of Black Soldier Fly eggs– which due to a mishap with the USPS was delayed and we did not get to it until a month later. Steve was surprised there were actually some larvae still alive in the little plastic bag, so he decided to bring them home and see if we could still raise them up.

I was not overly optimistic about the project anymore.  For one, the larvae had been in a plastic bag for over a month– how healthy were they?– and secondly–we were not sure exactly what we were doing.

I pulled out a plastic container and filled it with a little soil and put a little fruit scraps in it. I emptied the little larvae on top of it all. I then found the instructions, which had come with the larvae and it recommended putting a piece of moistened bread with coffee grounds in the bin and putting the larvae on top of that. So I scooped some of the larvae up and onto the bread and I hoped the others would get the idea.

Black Soldier Fly LarvaeThe Black Soldier Fly larvae after we first got them

Almost every day I have opened the lid of the container to check on the larvae and every time a little black cloud of tiny gnats with the occasional house fly have flew out.  I have been worried they have been disrupting the system, however the larvae still have been alive and wriggling.

But then doubts came in and a few days ago, I wondered if regular house flies had come in and laid eggs and all  we really had was handfuls of  thriving maggots… What exactly was I raising..???? Maggots— ? Ewwwww.

So I researched on the internet, about how to tell the difference between maggots and Black Soldier Fly larvae. I found this great article which explains the difference with great photos and detailed descriptions: http://www.blacksoldierflyfarming.com/forum/4-black-soldier-fly-discussions/829-whats-the-difference-between-bsl-and-fly-maggots?start=6

Here are a couple photos from that website:

Housefly MaggotsHousefly Maggots

BSF GrubsBlack Soldier Fly Larvae

I was still sorta leaning towards the thought I had young smooth white maggots in my bin.

I was disappointed. I was really counting on raising BSF up as a source of healthy, natural and clean protein to supplement our chickens diet.

However, after I went to check on the larvae after three more days– I could tell I definitely did not have maggots, but Black Soldier Fly larvae. They had grown so much, had started changing color and had even developed definite ridges, since I had checked on them last. It may seem odd to you all, but it made me very very happy!

Black Soldier Fly Larvae 2My beautiful fat and happy Black Soldier Fly Larvae

So our next step is to create a bin for the larvae to pupate and turn into flies.

I found a great video by NW Redworms on YouTube, who set up a pupation bin with great success.

A good example of a BSF pupation bin

I am hoping we will be able to make the BSF pupation bin and a BSF compost bin within the next month.

Our goal is to raise up a good sized colony of BSF and hopefully we will attract local BSF– so I can begin harvesting the larvae in the next several months for our chickens. We have perfect temperatures here for the BSF and should be able to raise them year round.

We will keep you posted!

I hope everyone has had a great weekend. We have gotten a lot done on the farm and I will update you more in a few days.

Much love, Rose

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