Love the Grub 2.1

Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae, common in compost piles, are a free protein source for chickens and fish. It’s possible to create a composter to deliberately propagate BSF. Jerry (sorry I don’t know your last name) of the Black Soldier Fly Blog, has put together excellent and very detailed instructions on how to construct the BSF composter above. It’s a kind of Logan’s Run for larvae. Soldier fly females enter through the pipe on the top of the bucket and lay their eggs in food scraps you place in the bottom of the device. Larvae hatch and climb up a spiral tube and fall into a holding box.

You can buy a commercial BSF propogator, the Biopod, but it’s a bit over my price range. I’ll be putting together this BSF composter soon and will report back on my results.

Thanks to Federico of the Los Angeles Eco-village for the tip on this. See Federico’s blog for some other amazing DIY projects.

Also, see our previous post on the BSF.

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  1. Really? The maggots climb? Eeeeew………. but intriguing… I usually turn over pots and stones in the yard, but maybe grubs would be better for the chickens instead of the hard working worms. OH- do your chickens go after fig eaters? That reminds me, it’s about that time of year for the clumsy buggers to show up in my yard.. Their grubs are the size of my thumb, and the chickens inhale them. Somehow.

  2. @Mjlai– Funny you should ask, the figeaters (around here we call them Japanese beetles or compost beetles or scarabs) just showed up. One was bumbling around our house yesterday (it hit Erik in the ear) and had to be helped out the door. I considered sacrificing it to the chickens, but just didn’t have the heart.

    But yes, our chickens will go after them on their own. Those fluffy, fat-bottomed, killing machines will go after anything that moves. We’ve found them eating both mice and lizards. And yes, they also love those grubs–harvesting them is the high point of turning compost.


    Maybe this deserves its own post, but while we’re talking of flies, do any of you have any recommendations for non-toxic and perhaps even homemade fly control system that we can put out near the chicken coop? High summer is here, and the flies are, too.

    We practice deep bedding* in our chicken coop, and that helps a whole lot, but still…

    The best thing ever would be to somehow trap the flies and let the chickens eat them!

    (*What’s deep bedding? It’s when you cover the floor of your coop and run with a very thick layer of straw or other organic matter. The chickens work their own poop and the remains of the veg scraps you give them into it, and it becomes, in effect, a compost pile. I’ll do a post on it soon.)

  4. A DIY biopod has been on my to-do list since early this spring, but this is the best design I’ve seen. Harvey Ussery has plenty to say on feeding poultry BSF larva.

    It’s worth noting, for all the squeamish types, that BSF adults neither sting nor eat. Their sole function at that stage is reproduction. They have no interest in humans or our food. So they are completely nuisance-free insects. Plus, the larva are kinda cute, in my opinion.

  5. Mrs. Homegrown, I buy old-fashioned fly paper at the local 99 cent store. It never occurred to me to try and feed the flies to the chickens. Perhaps we can draw inspiration from the old adage, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” and come up with a honey-based flytrap. Hmmmm, I’m going to meditate on that one.

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