What? Maggots don’t create excitement within your soul each and everyday?
I’m here to say that I have fallen head over heels in love with maggots, but not just any old maggot…
No, this is a very special maggot called the Black Soldier Fly Larvae. I prefer the word maggot though, because that’s exactly what they are. Why should I get all hung up on titles, right?
We often think of maggots as something gross, disease spreading, and if left to fester long enough, you get a full grown house fly. Everyone knows what house flies are, and how annoying they are. But here’s the thing about the black soldier fly maggot, they actually reduce the number of house fly pests by over 95 percent, by not allowing house flies to bring up their young in the compost.
Black soldier fly larvae will eat the house fly maggot, thereby greatly reducing the real nasty pesky maggots to almost nothing.
You may be asking yourself, “Farmer Jane, I don’t give a rat’s ass about maggots, or even the variety that you’ve fallen in love with, so what’s your point?” I’m so glad you’ve asked, so let me get to the heart of my new found love affair with soldier fly maggots:
House flies are pests, right? If you live on a homestead, or have domestic animals of any kind, living outside, chances are you are going to have LOTS of house flies. It’s a fact of owning a farm, or any kind of agricultural enterprise. Unless you are heavily spraying toxic pesticides everywhere, you’re going to have house flies. But when you start your compost pile, or manure pile, if you add black soldier fly larvae, you will not only reduce house flies, but you will also have a tiny little livestock creature that will turn a toxic pile of wasting food and manure, into a finished compost that is healthy, full of life, and a major source of food for chickens, ducks, fish, frogs, quail, partridge, turkeys, roosters, pigs, and any other animal that is an omnivore.
To get to the nitty gritty folks, the black soldier fly and its larvae will provide all the nutritional requirements needed to keep your poultry healthy AND grain free. What does that mean? You will never need to purchase food for your fowl, fish, and other animals that live on bugs. You will cut down by over 95 percent the population of pest house flies, and you’ll have amazing soil amendments that can replace bone and blood meal. Oh, and I should also mention that black soldier fly larvae in the compost will naturally deter and discourage cats, dogs and other furry animals from browsing through the piles looking for food.
I knew about the black soldier fly for about three years now, because of my desire to have aquaponics as a part of our farm. But I never put two and two together, that this highly productive and nutritious creature would become the actual work horse of our farm. I was looking for a way to never feed my ducks and chickens commercial feed again, when I watched a video by Geoff Lawton about how to feed your chickens exclusively on the compost piles. The question I asked myself was, “How do I do something similar for ducks?” I don’t want my ducks on compost, and we don’t have a huge pond that we could stock full of fish and duckweed. The amount of feed we went through to feed our ducks was insane. I have no desire to put us in the hole financially because we need to feed our ducks. No thanks.
So my quest brought me back to the black soldier fly, and I had that ah-ha moment, realizing that all our birds will be able to eat the most nutritious food I can offer them. We just need to set up a system to harvest these magnificent maggots, treat the black soldier flies well, and have an infinite, never ending supply of amazing food for our animals. As long as there is food scraps, and it can be ANY food scraps, the soldier fly maggots will eat it. That goes for offal, rotting meat, onions, citrus, manure, and anything else you have sitting in your garbage pail or compost pail, all while reducing the rotting odor often found in these piles. They can do the job that composting worms would be finicky about.
Worms can be picky eaters, not liking certain types of foods, but black soldier fly maggots are king of the compost heap.
Now, I said earlier that we are going to be raising our chickens on the compost pile. Imagine their delight, when they find a huge colony of black soldier fly larvae, as they turn and scratch through the compost pile. It is a symbiotic relationship between us as humans, poultry, and this beautiful little creature. Actually the symbiotic relationship goes even deeper, to include our greater community, since we will be able to offer other farmers a highly nutritious food product for their animals as well.
It would be totally simplistic to say that this will be the exclusive food for our animals, since their diets will have a rich variety of different food offerings. They will be pastured, able to scratch up the ground, eating seeds, bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, mice, lizards, fresh veggies and fruits, as well as compost, which will also give them a good strong dose of mycelium, helpful in strengthening their immune system. For the sake of this post, I didn’t want to get into all the different ways our animals will receive their nutrition, and at the same time, I didn’t want to leave out the information which could lead you to conclude that we will be feeding our animals via a monoculture. No matter how nutritious a single food is, eventually deficiencies will result in ill health and stress on the animals.
I’m in love with maggots, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
Now, I’m not just in love with them…I’m in love also with the black soldier fly too. Let me tell you why:
- The adult black soldier fly doesn’t have a working mouth. They do not regurgitate food like the common house fly
- They pollinate the garden
- They typically stay way from people and homes
- Since they don’t have a working mouth, they won’t feast on your food
- They do NOT spread disease, and neither do their offspring
- They can be confused with the organ pipe mud wasp
- They can not bite, nor sting
- They are not harmful in anyway to humans or animals
- They have the coolest eyes ever (okay that’s my personal opinion…but hey, just look at those eyes!)
- They are the key to extraordinary vitality for any animal that will eat larvae
- They will keep reproducing, leading to the ability to sell the offspring live or dried, earning a profit for your homestead. (I like that part)
There are so many reasons to fall in love with this gorgeous creature. Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder, and I will say that from where I sit, all I see is their beauty. God truly knew what he was doing when he created them. We need them in our lives. We will be welcoming them as our very first livestock for January 2014.
I’m in love…
I can’t help it. I hope you will fall in love with black soldier fly maggots too.
Here’s a time lapsed video of 5,000 black soldier fly larvae as they devour two whole fish in 24 hours!