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Aquaponics February 26th, 2010

So I went out to my worm farm the other day and opened the lid to this grotesque sight:

I know what you’re thinking – “eww maggots are in your compost”.

These are indeed maggots, but they are AWESOME maggots. Why? Because they’re Black Soldier Fly larvae (also known as Pheonix worm).  Below is a photo of the fly.

You’ve probably seen it around, they seem to be all over Australia. When they’re at the fly stage, their only concern is breeding and laying eggs. They have no mouthparts so they’re not the type of fly that comes into your house and buzzes around the kitchen scraps. They’re just not interested.

But the larvae. Well, they’re composting MACHINES. They will eat anything – which includes meat and citrus (something worms don’t abide by) – and turn all that compost into a rich source of protein – themselves. And here’s the kicker: they’re self harvesting.

What they do is grow from that small white stage, right up to a big brown stage like below:

Once they reach this stage, they head for a drier to environment so that they can pupate, so what you do is you put your bucket of scraps on a 45 degree angle, and the larvae get to this stage and then wriggle their way up and …. PLOP. They drop into your tank and are fish food. They are a fantastic source of protein and another step in “closing the loop”.

….Well that’s the theory anyway. I’m still yet to actually make a BSF harvester. You can buy commercial ones (e.g. BioPod) but they’re expensive. The Black Soldier Fly seems to arrive in Canberra in Summer (around December). I don’t think it can survive year round. Anyway, go do some searching – there’s plenty of info on them out in the wild, youtube has some good vids. The BackyardAquaponics Magazine Edition 5 contains an excellent article on BSFL (Black Soldier Fly Larvae). If you’re at all interested, buy this one (the whole magazine is excellent though).

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