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10591 Views 14 Replies Last post: Jan 25, 2013 3:38 PM by St_Vitus RSS
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Sep 21, 2011 12:37 PM

Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

Hello everyone,

 

We have been discussing the potential of  BSF larvae for use in composting in the UK. They have recently become available commercially in the UK as a food in the exotic pet industry (calciworms), some enthusiasts are breeding their own BSF in artificial environments.

 

We had concerns regarding negligent release, although we think the UK does not have sufficient sunlight hours for adults to breed, we have not reached a conclusion as to possible knock on effects to native species. The public literature shows wide European distribution, from Portugal, Croatia, Albania through to Turkey, but we can't find any reliable sightings in the UK.

 

I wonder if anyone knows of a similar British species that could be utilised in a similar manor?

 

A suitable species would lay eggs on or near decomposing vegetable matter, spend most of it's life cycle in the larval stage, and show no potential to become a pest.

 

There are some good advantages to using BSF larvae in composting, the larvae are voracious, deter house flies, and the adults have no mouth parts. The larvae can be utilised as poultry or fish food, they do not taint the flavour of eggs as the house fly maggot does, they are also a very good source of calcium and protein.

 

Any suggestions for a suitable British species would be appreciated.

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    Sep 22, 2011 2:43 PM (in response to Pumpy)
    Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

    Actually they do exist natively, but are not as frequent due to climate restrictions.

     

    I would look near stables and barns at which the animal feed does not contain larvacide or insecticides.

     

    Also be aware that the imported larva are sterile and can not be used for starting a BSF bin. The adults will not reproduce. You will have to find native ones.

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      Sep 22, 2011 4:05 PM (in response to rolivier79)
      Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

      First of all, I have seen no papers describing Hermetia as being an indigenous or even an established species in the UK. It is more then likely that it has been imported in its larval stages in organic products on many occasions but how often that resulted in emerging adults I do not know.

       

      I have no way to confirm whether conditions in the UK are suitable for breeding or not. The Asian ladybird was not suppose to be able to breed here, I think, and it now is all over the place.

       

      The UK list has a number of species that can be found near rotting vegetation and occasionally even seem to prefer compost heaps. The species I have most often seen associated with compost heaps is Sargus bipunctatus, a relatively large species (smaller than Hermetia, though), less often the other species of Sargus. Chloromyia formosa and Microchrysa polita I have myself reared from larvae and pupae collected from under grass heaps. These species are smaller than Sargus species but may well be suitable for your puppose if the material to be composted is mainly composed of grass.

       

      Paul

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        Sep 22, 2011 4:29 PM (in response to Paul Beuk)
        Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

        You are correct, as the origin of Hermetia is the Americas, however, they have established themselves world wide with the advent of trade routes. I see no reason why they wouldn't have established themselves in the capital of the colonial world and yet be present in Holland, Belgium, and north of France.

         

        Like the lady bird, I can imagine that they have adopted themselves also.

         

        Overall the black soldier fly is a low priority species when it comes to academic papers. Prior to the last 10 years and the research of Dr Craig Sheppard, there were only 2 academic papers on the species. Even, those were sponsored by a pesticide company and only exploring potential ways of killing them.

         

        A potential great academic resource would be a locally experienced forensic entomlogyst. They can often observe the species when assesing the time of death.

         

        I hope that helps.

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          Sep 22, 2011 6:46 PM (in response to rolivier79)
          Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

          Can you please quote me the sources for the Netherlands and Belgium?. I am from the Netherlands myself and I am unaware of it being established here (let alone even being recorded formally). The latest review dealing with species that might prove to be a risk (see the pdf downoadabble from http://www.pensoft.net/journals/biorisk/article/618/abstract/) lists about the same countries for Hermetia illucens as Fauna Europaea (which may be outdated). I cannot rule out that with the gradual rise in temperature the time might be near we will find them in the Low Countries.

           

          Paul

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        Sep 22, 2011 4:31 PM (in response to Paul Beuk)
        Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens
        PS: if the compost heap only has grass clippings and leaves you will not find BSF. You need waste that putrifies, like vegetalbes, fruits, meats. etc
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            Sep 22, 2011 7:31 PM (in response to Pumpy)
            Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

            I would not necessarily accept a description of the species on a 'UK residents only' page as a sign of proof that it should be a British species. I can recall having seen a mentioning of an adult (or more?) in the UK but I would be interested to see pictures. As to the record of adults from March to October, well I would say not impossible but why has that never been picked up by the dipterists community in the UK? Anyway, if they were there from March till October it must have been last year (or perhaps earlier) and since they were spotted over a longer period it must have been a resident. Please, let him (her?) collect some specimens so we can confirm ID. The temperature not being too bad should mean they are still about.

             

            Just a side step: On my website Diptera.info there have been at least about 30 ID queries for this species. From these queries I can add Slovenia and Greece to the list of european countries. One British larva was queried but that was discounted by a specialist with experience in the forensic field.

             

            Paul

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            Sep 22, 2011 7:49 PM (in response to Pumpy)
            Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

            Checked out your diptera.info. Very Cool site.

             

            I sell BioPod™ Plus Black Soldier Fly grub composters. We have sold a few units to Britain without significant feedback (people call when they can't get it started). Had a customer near Brugge, Belgium that did have issues attracting the species for months and eventually he found some at a local pig farm.

             

            Also, I heard there was a group in Holland cultivating BSF for a project to decompose pig manure. I believe that this was a private enterprise venture and not a university project. I heard that project also had a lot of difficulty and the yields of grubs was very low. I suspect that this is because the deep pit systems utilized in the study have very old manure and not nutrient rich fresh manure. Overall i think you can find the species when you look/try hard enough. But... for the species to become nich dominant (like they are in other climates) local adaptation is required.

             

            I was not aware of any success in Switzerland and assume this must be some lower altitude areas.

             

            Great idea checking Novartis website. I totally agree with your statement about educating farmers.

             

            If you like, send the farmers my video: http://www.compostmania.com/about-grub-composting-black-soldier-fly-video

             

            Robert

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    Sep 24, 2011 12:58 PM (in response to Pumpy)
    Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

    I recentlty encountered a Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) on my local patch of Shenstone, North Worcestershire, UK.

     

    I've attached a photo I took of this individual.

     

    Jason

     

    http://shenstonebirder.blogspot.com/

     

    Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) - Shenstone 10.06.11.jpg

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    Jan 25, 2013 3:38 PM (in response to Pumpy)
    Re: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens

    Hello,

    how did you get on with H. illucens? Did you manage to get a breeding population going. Did the regs allow you to perform your trials?

     

    We are also interested in performing a trial with BSFL to manage waste. I understand that the Soil Association is  interested in composting trials with them too.

     

    best regards,

     

    Richard.

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