Strat-fly composting

Mikal Jakubal mjakubal at asis.com
Sat Dec 1 15:54:37 EST 2001


Hi y'all,
(Not to interrupt the interesting conversations going on presently, or
change the subject, but...)

Has anyone had any experience with using Stratiomyidae (in particular,
Hermetia illucens, the common Black Soldier Fly) larvae in composting? If
you haven't heard of it, here's a couple good sources of info:
<http://www.virtualcentre.org/en/ele/awi_2000/particip/oliver.pdf.>
<http://csf.colorado.edu/archive/1997/compost/msg03988.html>

I inoculated one of the barrels in my compost toilet with larvae from a
friend's compost heap this summer and they seemed to thrive, even with
fresh poop getting dropped on them--something earthworms don't seem to be
able to handle. They also displace house fly maggots, and the adults aren't
a pest (though they might alarm people unfamiliar with them since they are
a hornet mimic). 

What's really cool is that they will self-harvest in their quest for a
pupation site (see the first link for a diagram of how simple the required
set-up is!). 

I'm sketching ideas for my permanent compost toilet that uses Strat-fly
larvae. What seems like the obvious thing to do is integrate the pooper
with a chicken coop such that chicken waste drops into the bin and feeds
the Strat-flies as well, and then the larvae harvest themselves into the
coop and into the beaks of waiting birds. The only real management might
involve keeping the larvae appropriately fed, periodically removing
finished compost material, and monitoring the insects' cycles so that
enough larvae are allowed to become reproducing adults to keep the system
going. 

By having the composter and chickens in the same place, both chores can be
taken care of with one trip first thing in the morning. Apparently, the
larvae become inactive below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, suggesting the
possibility of incorporating a greenhouse with some thermal mass into the
system as a heat source so in the winter it will all still function. 

Anyone worked with these critters in this way? Or have any other useful
ideas? I'll post whatever I come up with, but in the meantime, any help
will be appreciated. 

Mikal

  
  



More information about the permaculture mailing list