Black Soldier Fly Trap

As fascinating as I find black soldier fly larvae (based on their potential as a waste processor and food source for a wide range of other organisms), I’ve never really put too much time into learning more about them simply because I live up in Canada where they are not found. Unlike worms, which can easily just be brought indoors, the challenge with soldier fly larvae is that they mature into big flies – not exactly something most of us want to spring on our spouses!

My good friend, Jerry “The Worm (Inn) Dude” Gache decided to come up with solution for those of us who want to grow BSFLs indoors – or just generally want to keep a culture going. It’s called the “BSF Trap”, and it’s basically a screened enclosure that sits nicely over top of a BioPod system. Jerry has told me that it should also work with tub systems as long as they have similar upper dimensions (in the range of 16″x24″). I’ve included a couple of Jerry’s videos so you can see this thing in action.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae also go by the name “Phoenix Worms” in the live food trade, and are probably fairly easy to track down through pet shops (and certainly online). Just do a search on YouTube for “Phoenix Worms” and you will find a wide range of video clips featuring various lizards (Bearded Dragons, Geckos etc) chowin down on these things! I have a sneaking suspicion that they would also be phenomenal for larger fish – and perhaps even an effective bait for panfish (trout perhaps?). Many people who have set up outdoor vermicomposting beds in warmer regions know all too well that it’s not very challenging to start your own colony of BSFL. It’s been said that they work well with Red Worms, but my impression (based on a lot of feedback from frustrated vermicomposters) is that they tend to take over a system and gradually make it less and less worm-friendly.

I’ve never had to deal with these “problems”, and I’ve always been fascinated with various invertebrate “food” organisms – so I can’t help but think these guys are pretty darn cool! That’s not even taking their composting potential into consideration! Check out what these guys can do with hamburgers and rainbow trout! Scary stuff! lol

Anyway – if you want to learn more about the BSF Trap, be sure to head on over to Jerry’s website, “The Worm Dude”. You may also want to check out Jerry’s “BSFL Video Clips” website (sister site to “Worm Video Clips”) as well!

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    • John Duffy
    • September 1, 2011

    Man…That was freaky,scary, wierd…looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.
    Hmmm…I wonder if that’s what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.
    Loved the time lapse photography!
    As soon as I satisfy my curiousity with worms, I might have to give those little buggers a try just for the “very interesting” appeal.
    Have there been any studies as to the effectiveness of BSF compost?

    • nightrow
    • September 3, 2011

    “It’s been said that they work well with Red Worms”
    In fact, after some reading on BSF, i can tell you that was is working is to give to worms the ouputs of the BSF, with worms in another system not in contact with BSF.
    Seems like they are going trough it quite fast, making a already processed remaining even smaller.
    BSF are know to be able to control a system by making other leaves, so yeah dont put BSF and worms in the same bin.

    • Bentley
    • September 4, 2011

    I hear ya, John – pretty crazy stuff!
    Not sure about actual BSFL “compost” research – don’t think they’ve been studied (in that way) nearly as much as composting worms.
    Nightrow – thanks for the insights. That definitely makes more sense!
    I bet that’s a great way to turn it into a top notch natural fertilizer. What does the BSFL material look like? Does it need any preparation prior to adding to worm system?

    • nightrow
    • September 9, 2011

    I don’t recall reading that it requires any preparation. It’s already broken down material, so it’s good as is. It looks like shreded leaves, it is in fact the cellulosic part that the BSF don’t eat.
    Waste from a BSF system is like 5% of input (in weight i think), so you are not going to feed big worms system with it, which may be a good point (only small system required).
    I wish i could try BSF, but living in europe and having no garden I can’t.

  1. I use them in my system.Not for everybody.But you can make a system where it is a flowthru.A large flowthru! And one side leave with worm only food.Add leaf litter and paper products,etc. to one side.The other side put in foods that both love.After the soldiers are done,the worms finish it off and move back to their own side if they need to.
    You keep adding food BSFL like,they go in a feeding frenzy,and lay loads of eggs after they hatch out.If you feed off and on,it seems to control the population a bit.And you can make them kind of go dormant.
    You want BSFL.If they live in your area,just leave a big bag of spent coffee grounds in the plastic bag from your favorite coffee shop.After it goes funky,the soldiers will over take it in my observance.Corn mash was too smelly for me when i tried what others said worked.DID NOT SMELL GOOD! Coffee still smelled like coffee!And i also think they are fooled by it generating heat like larvae would.

  2. Hi everyone,
    My name is John, and I run a website which is relevant to this thread –
    Recently on our forum we have been discussing the creation of a system that uses both worms and BSF’s in the same unit.
    We’ve found that BSF’s are such strong eater’s that they generally overpower the worms, but hopefully we can come up with a design that uses the benefits of both these amazing creatures.
    Has anyone got (or even heard of) such a bin?

    • Bentley
    • August 7, 2012

    Hi John,
    While I’ve certainly heard of people keeping both in the same system (and claiming to do so successfully), I have yet to learn of a specific type of bin/bed that’s designed for this purpose. Like you said, it seems as though the BSFLs basically take over a lot of the time.

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • July 12, 2013

    That was creepy and gross and fascinating!!! Such movement they make in that bin, whoa! I bet they make a great protein source for birds, like mealworms, but I’m not fond of the thought of flies in my house.

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