While normally I talk almost exclusively about growing plants, this time we are talking about growing bugs. I guess to be more accurate, raising bugs. Why raise bugs? In this case, there are a couple of different reasons.
I guess we should first discuess what exactly Soldier Fly Larvae are. They are the young "worm" offspring of adult Solder Flies that have yet to pupate into their adult form. Like butterflies and moths, the young are similar to "worms" or caterpillars. In this stage of life they can be your best friend.
Any homesteader raising fowl, any gardener trying to improver their soil, or any waste conscious person can benefit from raising Solder Fly Larvae. In fact, they are arguably one of the most important insects in the breakdown of organic material. They are vital to our landfills and vital to our compost bins. Without Soldier Fly Larvae, the amount of time it takes to break down compost could easily be 10 fold.
Outside of the compost bin, Solder Fly Larvae are a great source of protein for any homesteader's fowl. From chickens to Guinea Fowl, these larvae can be an important source of protein for any flock. If you are already composting your table scraps and yard waste, then you can now raise a free protein rich feed for your flock.
Don't be concerned with disease. Unlike maggots, Soldier Fly Larvae prefer to host on plant material rather than decaying meat or animal tissue. This significantly reduces their incidence of carrying disease making them very safe for feeding your flock.
So how do we harvest these little worms for our chickens. We have to begin by understanding the Soldier Fly life cycle. Adult Soldier Flies search for places to lay eggs next to (but not in) a suitable food source. Adults live for approximately 38 days where they spend most of their time focused on reproduction.
Once eggs are hatched, the larvae will grow through 6 phases - called instars - until they are ready to pupate into adult flies. This process takes approximately 14 days. When they are ready to pupate, they seek out a place in the ground away from the food source that they have been feeding on. This is a protective mechanism that helps prevent them from being accidentally eaten by their cousins or other insects feasting on the decaying organic material.
When building an apparatus that helps us harvest Soldier Fly Larvae, the focus should be on harvesting them just before pupation. That way, we allow the soldier fly larvae to help break down our foodscraps into compost, and also catch them at their biggest instar as feed for our flocks.
There are several different ways we can capture Solder Fly Larvae successfully. Below, you will see a video that discusses the apparatus we are currently using. Updates will be posted as we go along with details into what is going right and what is going wrong with our current set up. Enjoy!!
In this video we talk about some the issues I am having with this setup and the remedy I am attempting to see if we get better results.