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Been reading a lot on use of BSF to dispose of household garbage and am envious of those in zones where these flies naturally occur. We don't get them in this part of Canada.

Anyone know if a population can be maintained in say a large greenhouse or small quonset with plenty of bushes inside to hideout in for those of us in northern climates? A lot of my net searching merely has said 'not possible' but some people must have tried this. I like vermicomposting but am intrigued by the amount of food the larva can process. I currently have more kitchen and yard waste than my worms can process and I like the idea of them being able to chew up the stuff I'd rather not put in my indoor worm bin.

I can maintain a marine aquarium thousands of miles from where these fish would normally be found so long as I can provide adequate conditions in a controlled environment. I want to think that a large greenhouse or quonset with BSF bins full of food and bushes planted all around the sides would provide and suitable environment so long as something is done with regard to winter temperatures. If it got below freezing outside but the eggs/larva were prevented from freezing would they just go dormant and start back up in the spring?

I have the space to try this out but would like to research other peoples attempts at this to see if it's even possible.

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Thanks Steamyb, looks like a lot of info there. It'll take me a while to go through it.

"I know this is an old post, but if you Google "Rearing Methods for the Black Soldier Fly (Diptera: Stratiomyidae)". by Sheppard, Tomberlin, Joyce, Kiser and Sumner, you'll find some good info.

Indoor breeding ain't easy.  Heather Twist has had some success on a small scale.  Check out her blog here: http://eatingoffthefoodgrid.blogspot.com/search/label/Black%20Soldi...

I am currently experimenting with breeding BSF in a greenhouse tent during the winter months here in southwest Florida.  Check out my post, "Raising Soldier Flies in Captivity" on my blog http://www.raisesoldierflies.com.  So far, I've had less than stellar success with the project.

Short answer to your question is yes, it's possible.  But it apparently ain't easy!

A paper on the Journal of Insect Science website details successful indoor breeding in China using an artificial light source.

http://www.insectscience.org/10.202/
Hmmmm. I want to try raising BSFL in Mid-MI this spring and summer. I'm thinking I will order larva online around late March or early April, feed them well, and have them (hopefully) composting for me and breeding during the summer months. I'll have to figure out a way to keep them indoors during the winter - perhaps just dormant/pupating if they can remain dormant through our long winter months . . . though I am looking into Mike's article on the the artificial light source. I think my basement will be too cold for them (mid 50's) - though my Red Worms like it just fine.
Leigh another option might be to keep your colony going outside. The link below for 'Keeping BSF Larvae Warm in Winter' has details about this being done in Eugene, Oregon. Basically the BSFL seem to use all their energy to stay warm and don't mature or crawl off.

http://www.esrla.com/winter/frame.htm

Wow!!! When I saw those January temps on that graph - I seriously started to consider moving to Oregon . . .

 

Thank you Mike. That link has great info. I'm wondering if I can dig a trench, fill it with BSFL, add a feeding chute, and put my horse's stock tank on top of it. Maybe the heat the larva generate will keep the water from freezing, lol. Either that or I could heat my garage with them . . .

Leigh, I don't want to burst your bubble, but realistically, it will be difficult to establish a breeding colony in Michigan - unless you do it indoors.  Wild BSF are normally found in zone 7 and higher (maybe some in zone 6).  You could certainly raise a colony if you buy the grubs or eggs in the spring/summer, But even the egg hatchlings will mature in a few weeks and the colony will diminish as they crawl off - unless you have new egglaying going on or continue to buy replacements.  Unfortunately you sorta gotta go with the species you local climate will support. :(

As an example, I would love to raise European Nightcrawlers, but I don't think it's feasible here in southwest Florida unless I was to attempt it indoors.  The climate just ain't hospitable.

I agree, Brian.

I was (mostly) joking about using the heat generated to keep the stock tank from freezing - I've been trying different methods (as I don't have power out there). An insulated passive solar box around the tank is most likely going to be my best bet.

I don't mind buying larvae or eggs in the spring and keeping them going during the summer. I want to be able to compost as much waste as possible. Better to be able to utilize it than have it go to the landfill. And I want to feed the castings to my worms. If I can keep a small BSFL colony going throughout summer - with the BSF females laying eggs in or around the bin, that should be enough. At best - I will have at least some small success; at worst, the experiment fails. If it ends up only being something I can do in the summer, that's fine.

Well, so far my little BSFL colony has been doing quite well. I started with a batch of larva that Don was kind enough to send me. Those matured, pupated, and hatched into healthy adults. I was originally planning on letting them loose and hoping at least a few would stick around to lay eggs. I had a lot fly away initially - they were in a bin in my garage and would fly out whenever the garage door opened. We had some very windy days as they were first hatching - the wind would carry them right away as soon as they left the garage.

Luckily, a few did return to the bucket I had set up for them. Not as many as I had hoped for but at least one female laid eggs in it.

I had better luck with the remaining pupae - I bought a sheer curtain at the Salvation Army thrift store and used it to make my own version of Heather Twist's 'Honeymoon Hotel' for BSFL. I took a large dog crate, set up a bucket of 'bait' food, and a schefflera. I wrapped the whole thing in the sheer curtain - air, light, and moisture could get in but the BSF stayed put. I just checked the bait bucket a few days ago and it was literally teaming larva! I checked again today and many of the larva that were too small to see then are now several millimeters long. I had been worried about the BSF needing more room to fly but it seems that it's not necessary.

I was originally going to raise these for chicken feed and composting horse manure but they are so fascinating I just can't feed them to my flock, lol. I really want to grow the colony even larger now. Today I counted just over 100 larva that had self harvested. I have another, smaller larva that is mixed in with the BSFL. I'm not sure what they are yet (I did feed most of those to my flock). I had a few flies hatch out with the original batch that weren't BSFL but were very similar but smaller and light brown in color. I'm not sure of their ability to break down food and manure compared to the BSFL, though. The only other soldierfly-like references I could find that looked like these were predator flies.

Now I just have to set something up in the basement for keeping the BSFL going during the winter . . .

Thanks for the update Leigh.  I've been trying a Honeymoon Hotel with CFLs (no sunlight) and not having any luck with getting the adults to mate. I only started with 130 larvae from a pet store and I doubt I'll get a second generation started.

 

I hope you'll post some photos of you're setup.

Hi Mike,

Mine are currently outside in direct sun from about 2 p.m. on. I will try to get pics posted. The set-up is definitely nothing fancy, lol. My first attempt was wrapping a large parrot cage with the sheer curtain ($2.50 Salvation Army find - Heather's suggestion). The curtain wasn't quite large enough and apparently I'm not savvy enough with a sewing machine to sew 2 curtains together . . . I have a better idea for my indoor winter set-up. Just have to get the materials I need together and clear some space in the basement . . . I get lots of natural light (large egress windows) and I'll supplement light with either CFL's or grow-lights.

Leigh for an example of a larger scale indoor system see this (link). It's a baby playpen with a tall net. I don't know how much of a problem escaping larvae would be.

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