Low Carbon Footprint: The Sustainable Benefits of BSF Larvae as Animal Feed

Low Carbon Footprint: The Sustainable Benefits of BSF Larvae as Animal Feed

As the world continues to search for sustainable food solutions, black soldier fly (BSF) larvae have emerged as a promising source of animal feed with a low carbon footprint. This innovative and eco-friendly approach is gaining traction due to its ability to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions while providing a nutrient-rich protein source.

So, how does it work? BSF larvae are known for their voracious appetites and can consume a wide range of organic waste materials, including vegetable scraps, brewery and distillery waste, and animal manure. This ability to feed on waste makes them an environmentally responsible option for animal feed production.

Once the larvae have consumed the organic waste, they are harvested, dried, and processed into protein-rich biomass that can be used to feed a variety of animals, including fish, poultry, and livestock. This protein source has been shown to be comparable to traditional protein sources like fishmeal, soybeans, and poultry meal.

One of the key sustainable benefits of using BSF larvae as a protein source is their ability to reduce the volume of organic waste, while also producing nutrient-dense biomass. This not only provides a sustainable protein source but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the need for landfills.

Another benefit of BSF larvae as animal feed is their low water usage. Conventional animal feed production can require a lot of water, but BSF larvae require very little. This makes it a water-efficient and sustainable alternative to animal feed production.

Moreover, the BSF larvae production process can be done on a small scale, making it accessible to small farmers and communities. This allows for local production and reduces the need for transportation, further reducing its carbon footprint.

In conclusion, the use of BSF larvae as an animal feed source presents an innovative and sustainable alternative to traditional sources. By reducing organic waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage, this eco-friendly approach is an important step towards a more sustainable and responsible food system. Let’s embrace this low carbon footprint solution and create a brighter and sustainable future for all.

Black Soldier Fly Digest Waste

How Does the Black Soldier Fly Digest So Many Types of Wastes?

Figuring out how Nature operates, replicating the process, and industrializing has been a ‘holy grail’ of humanity since the beginning of time for a multitude of topics. For example, and the first thing I thought of, ‘lightening strikes the ground’ and fire is produced- so take a piece of flint, strike a rock, get sparks and fire can be produced. Better yet- if it can be recreated- can we then use it as a model to better understand the process and enhance it (thinking lightening creating fire evolving to harnessing atoms to produce heat).

The same is being done with the black soldier fly. Somehow, the larvae of this insect can digest a host of organic materials and produce waste that can be used as fertilizer and larval mass that can be used as feed. Can this system be replicated in a lab? Can such data result in a better understanding of the processes that allows for this insect to digest a plethora of wastes?

But, I leave you with this question (for fun):

Can the ability of the black soldier fly be replicated in the lab and industrialized?

Imagine- giant industrialized mechanical insect guts recycling organic waste and producing insect protein and fertilizer!

The Canada Black Soldier Fly Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.2% from 2021 to 2028 to reach $18.4 million by 2028

The Canada Black Soldier Fly Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.2% from 2021 to 2028 to reach $18.4 million by 2028

Some of the major factors driving the growth of this market include the growing aquaculture industry, rising demand for alternative proteins in the animal feed industry, and increasing government and support for the Canadian BSF industry.

However, limited acceptance and approvals for Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) to be incorporated into the human diet hinder the growth of Canada’s black soldier fly market. Additionally, the potential use of chitin and chitosan in industrial applications is expected to create opportunities for the players operating in this market, and the availability of cheaper substitutes is a major challenge for market growth.

COVID-19 Effects on the BSF Product Supply Chain in Canada

The COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-nCoV-2 has created a severe public health emergency globally, with its quick spread in more than 215 countries. According to the World Health Organization, the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to climb, with more than 1,782,171 confirmed cases and 29,618 deaths in Canada as of November 30th, 2021. Like other manufacturing industries, the COVID-19 outbreak poses numerous challenges to the feedstock sector in Canada.

The feedstock such as soymeal, fishmeal, and others manufacturing industries has faced major challenges, including the risk of continuing production, distribution, transportation, and other supply chain activities; lack of workforce; delays in development activities; and raw material sourcing. The rescheduling of private investment financing and public funding initiatives towards developing the sector has further restricted its development. These factors are expected to impact the animal feed industry, driving the demand for alternative protein substitutes, including black soldier fly products.

However, the lockdown has been announced to control the pandemic, impacting the movement of vehicles carrying livestock, feed, and feed ingredients. Due to the risk of animal feed, suppliers are slowing their production or closing altogether. Farmers are concerned they may need to slow or stop slaughterhouse operations and keep their animals for longer due to lower demand, requiring them to use more feed than usual. Even delivery trucks are difficult to procure. These factors have led to livestock farms building up two-week feed supplies when normally they might only keep enough for one or two days. For example, Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, which uses black soldier fly as a feed ingredient, has slightly increased its livestock business sales. In addition, Cargill had seen its global feed sales volume grow by 10% or more in March 2020. Thus, the rising preference for BSF over traditional feedstock as a rich source of protein & immunity booster during the current outbreak of COVID-19 has created a new wave of interest in the BSF market in Canada.

Investor acquires half of Canadian BSFL producer

Investor acquires half of Canadian BSFL producer

Toronto-based Goldbloom Enterprises aims to become a leader in the alternative protein sector.

Eat & Beyond Global Holdings, an investment issuer that focuses on food tech and sustainability, recently acquired 50% of shares and 100% of outstanding warrants of Canadian black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) producer Goldbloom Enterprises.

The firm upcycles products to produce sustainable BSFL protein for use in livestock feed, aquaculture and raw material for pet food and treats, among other categories.

The company also has a 20,000-square-foot grow facility near Guelph (Ontario) where it produces live and freeze-dried larvae.

The Canadian company is spearheaded by Founder and President James Delany, who has 30 years of experience in the pet food and protein sector, and Entomologist Ayesha Jabeen.


Microbiota of the black soldier fly

The BSF is associated with an elevated microbiological risk related to the diversity of the feeding conditions. To our knowledge, only three studies investigated the microbiota of the BSF, and only one is mycobiota. The mycobiota diversity is influenced by the diet and can be reduced by a prolonged feeding time. According to the authors, the majority of the yeasts detected on the BSF fed on several substrates are producers of antimicrobial compounds. The impact of the feed on the microbiota has been evaluated on the larvae’s entire digestive tract and specific parts of the midgut. The microbiota of all BSF stages has also been tracked when fed the Gainesville diet, a reference diet for Diptera (50% wheat bran, 30% alfalfa, and 20% corn meal). The microbiota of the whole larva contained 54% Bacteroidetes, 20% Firmicutes, 28% Proteobacteria, and 9% Actinobacteria, similar to its midgut microbiota when fed on the Gainesville diet. It seems that the bacteria taxa of the BSF provided with a balanced diet are dominated by Bacteroidetes (i.e., peptidoglycan degraders) and contains 9–20% Firmicutes and 16–28% Proteobacteria. Hence, when fed an unbalanced diet such as 100% fish meal and 100% cocked rice, the microbial diversity completely changes. Indeed, the larva digestive tract does not contain Bacteroidetes anymore but is now colonized by Proteobacteria (54–56%) and Firmicutes (43–47%), which may be problematic since most food-poisoning microorganisms are part of these taxa [37-38]. However, it is not necessarily problematic since lactic acid bacteria also belong to the Firmicutes.

Proteobacteria is a group of gram-negative bacteria, meaning that they possess an external membrane of lipopolysaccharides and a thin layer of peptidoglycan, including some essential pathogen bacteria. Indeed, Escherichia coli, which are known to induce gastroenteritis, Salmonella spp., responsible for salmonellosis, and Shigella spp., which provokes shigellosis in humans, are members of the Enterobacteriaceae family (Gammaproteobacteria) which are Proteobacteria. Another well-known Gammaproteobacteria is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is an opportunist pathogen. Campylobacter spp. are also Proteobacteria (Epsilonbacteria), one of the most often reported etiologic agents of gastroenteritis (i.e., campylobacteriosis).

Firmicutes are a group of gram-positive bacteria that possess a thick layer of peptidoglycan, allowing them to increase their resistance to physical disruption, heat, and desiccation but are more vulnerable to antibiotics and other chemical antimicrobial compounds than gram-negative bacteria. Firmicutes also include major pathogens, which are mainly in two classes, Clostridia and Bacilli. Clostridia, including Clostridium perfringens, a sporulated food-spoilage bacteria, are often found in vacuum-packed food or food poorly refrigerated. Other important food-poisoning microorganisms are Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, and coagulase-positive Staphylococci (Bacilli). 

In addition to the feeding substrates that greatly influence the BSF larvae’s microbial load, the harvest stage is also essential. Indeed, when fed the Gainesville diet, it has been shown that the microbial community of prepupae contains 20% fewer Bacteroidetes, 10% fewer Firmicutes, and 25% more Proteobacteria than larvae. As a result, the prepupae may include more pathogens and should be further investigated. For some microorganisms, even the presence of a few bacteria is enough to induce toxicity, while for others, it requires higher counts. It is therefore critical to quantify the presence of these pathogens per gram to establish the risk they represent. Table 1.3 reports the only published microbial load data on the BSF larvae or prepupae until now. We know that Listeria spp. and Shigella spp. have not been detected in BSF larvae, but B. cereus, E. coli, Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus spp., Pseudomonas spp. and Clostridia have been. Further processing steps must focus on reducing the microbial load to ensure product safety.  


Fatty acid profile

The BSF fatty acid profile is also variable depending on the development stage. It contains primarily saturated fatty acid allowing it to tolerate a wide temperature range, as shown in Table 1.2. Indeed, because the BSF cannot regulate its body temperature and must survive at temperatures up to 40 °C, a high concentration of lauric acid allows it to reduce the fluidity of the membrane and its oxidation. Moreover, the composition of the BSF lipid also depends on the feeding substrate. Indeed, it is possible to increase the proportion of valuable unsaturated fatty acid to 37% of the lipid content by feeding the larvae a diet containing fish meal inclusions a few hours before killing them. However, unsaturated fatty acids are vulnerable to oxidation, reducing their nutritional value if not inhibited. It is therefore essential to maintain the quality of the fatty acids by preventing their oxidation.

Table 1.2 Fatty acid profile of the black soldier fly larvae and prepupae.

Fatty acid (% lipid) Larvae Prepupae
Lauric (C12 :0) 29 – 61 44 – 73
Myristic (C14 :0) 7 – 10 7 – 10
Palmitic (C16 :0) 8 – 17 6 – 10
Palmitoleic (C16 :1n-7) 3 – 7 1 – 8
Stearic (C18 :0) 1 – 3 0 – 2
Oleic (C18 :1n-9) 8 – 18 3 – 8
Linoleic (C18 :2n-6) 4 – 17 5 – 12
Alpha-Linolenic (C18 :3n-3) 0 – 2 0 – 1
Unsaturated fatty acid 18 – 37 10 – 24
Saturated fatty acid 53 – 80 63 – 91



Life cycle of the black soldier fly

The BSF, a tropical and temperate dipteran insect, is adapted to large-scale production considering its short life cycle, the great size of its immature stage, the high number of eggs, and bioconversion efficiency. Females lay between 320 and 620 eggs. Four days later, the larvae hatch and go through six larval instars, including the prepupae, then pupate. The larvae are beige and possess photoreceptors that allow them to flee the light. They can eat a wide variety of organic matter such as manure, fruits and vegetables, food waste, and fish offal and can reduce up to 50% of their feeding substrate dryly. They also have a high conversion efficiency since they can produce 1 kg of larvae biomass with 1.4 kg of ingested feed compared to cricket and mealworms, which require 2.3 and 3.8 kg, respectively. The BSF larvae reach the prepupal stage in 10 to 52 days and weigh 300 mg depending on the feed offered and the rearing temperature. It then stops eating and initiates melanization, resulting in a darker coloration of the cuticle a few hours before molting becomes a prepupa. During this stage of 7 to 10 d, the prepupa migrates to a dry place to metamorphose into a pup. The pupal stage, during which larvae do not move nor eat for at least eight days, ends with the adult emergence. Because the imago does not eat, it uses its accumulated reserves to meet its metabolic needs. The fly mates and lays its eggs in 8 to 9 living days. The most nutritious stages are the larval ones (larva and prepupa) and are, therefore, the most often harvested by BSF producers.


Exploring the use of black soldier flies

They’re [flies] extremely efficient in converting organic waste into nutrition,” he explained. “But, it’s not all fly species – the particular one we use is the black soldier fly. They possess a really good amino acid profile, and are high in protein and calcium.”

Scientifically known as ‘hermetia illucens’, these harmless flies are normally found in warm and tropical/subtropical regions of the Western Hemisphere and Australia.

Black soldier flies have very rapid life-cycles and have a lifespan of five to eight days once they’ve reached adulthood. In that time frame, they can lay anywhere from 200 to 700 eggs and need 4 days to hatch.

Hunt further elaborated, “The amount of protein that can be produced per square foot (ft²) compared to other forms of agriculture is outstanding, and the amount of water and land usage is minimal compared to other forms of protein production.”


Hexafly operates in a 15,000 ft² near the zero-waste facility in Navan, County Meath, where the entirety of their manufacturing takes place.

“The process starts with breeding: There is a dedicated breeding room in the facility where the adult flies are mating in a temperature-controlled environment,” explained Hunt.

“From there, we extract eggs on a daily basis, weigh them and move them to the next stage of the process, which is hatching. After that, they’re introduced to the feed”

“Then, upon reaching the immature or larvae stage, we introduce them to the next level of feed and they go into an incubation room.”

The feed-in question is organic waste, from animal-based to residual food scraps.

“They consume that feedstock over a 10-day period. What will be leftover of that feed is a by-product called frass, which is essentially insect manure and insect castings – it’s used as a fertilizer.”


When the larvae reach a “ripe” age, Hunt said they process them into dried larvae, or into oils and proteins.

“The protein products have a 56% protein content, and that goes into pet feed or aqua-feed ingredients,” he said.

“The oil produced is very similar to coconut oil, with both containing glutamic acid. It can be used in gut supplements for weaning pigs, and it can also be used in the oleochemical industry for things like candles.”

Hunt said one of the most significant products they sell is one for poultry.

“We actually sell live larvae to poultry farmers, which sounds crazy, but it is actually what poultry should be eating,”

“This can help with weak shells because getting enough calcium can be an issue for chickens, and the live growths are packed with them – it has more calcium than any other insect.

“It is also high in protein, so it is a great supplement for chicks to feed on at an early stage.

“The feedback we have gotten aligns with our scientific studies. There is less egg loss, higher egg yields, stronger and darker shells and, actually, a nicer taste to the egg as well – a richer yoke due to the glutamic acid.”

Hunt added that the live larvae also serve as an effective stimulant for the birds’ appetites if they’re not eating enough feed.

He concluded by saying that the company is slowly but surely able to display the tangible benefits of the black soldier fly, regardless if it’s to be used for food security, environmental consciousness or just better nutrition for animals.

Source: https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/using-flies-in-food-production-the-answer-for-global-demands/


12 Reasons Why You Should Try The Black Soldier Fly In 

this article, you’re going to learn why you should consider farming and eating the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL).What’s more, I’m going to show you how to eat them and what are the 12 most important benefits of BSFL.

If you never heard how eating insect can improve your health and help us save the planet, definitely check out this post about entomophagy.

If you’re like me and you love to live healthy while reducing your impact on the environment, or you just want to find a good way of making your organic waste useful, you’ll absolutely love this post.

You’re going to learn exactly why you should consider having your own little colony.

So keep reading.

When you think of flies, you don’t think of something you could eat.

It’s true that the regular house fly isn’t something you want to try snacking on.

Instead, why not try the black soldier fly?

I know, you think it’s gross. But I can promise you that you’re going to be amazed at what they can do for you.

Here’s why you’re going to want to try them out for yourself, what they are and how they can help to save the planet.

Why Eat Black Soldier Flies?

So, why should you try eating insects like the black soldier fly, rather than regular protein sources?

Many people who have switched to the insects say they’re looking to support more ethical farming systems, rather than the ones that are in place today.

Having your own black fly farm would also help you reduce your impact on the environment.

There’s so many problems with buying store protein sources, such as meat.

You don’t know how far it’s come to be on that store shelf, meaning that it could have traveled hundreds of miles on a fume spewing truck to get there.

Then there’s the environmental impact of the packaging to consider. Eating black soldier fly larvae will eliminate all of that, so you’ve reduced your carbon footprint by a considerable margin.

In the future, you could be farming your very own black soldier fly larvae.

A prototype machine, named Farm 432, has been created as a proof of concept.

The machine would sit in your kitchen, and help you breed and develop your own larvae. It’s a closed system, so you know exactly what’s going in and out of your farm.

It also makes it easy to obtain your own larvae, meaning that you can rely more on self produced foods, rather than mass produced ones.

What Is A Black Soldier Fly?

A black soldier fly, or Hermetia illucens is a common and widespread fly of the family Stratiomyidae.

BSF is a fly that holds some unique properties. It’s not a pest like the regular house fly, and so it can actually be put to use by humans.

Black soldier fly larvae play a similar role to that of redworms as essential decomposers in breaking down organic substrates and returning nutrients to the soil.

Ok, I must admit, the BSF definitely doesn’t look as charming as our Illustration. But they definitely do compensate the looks with other benefits.

One of their most interesting properties is its closed life cycle. The adult female lays its eggs not long before dying, and the larvae hatches in around 4 days.

The larvae feeds, and when they develop into flies they’ll lay eggs, starting the process over again.

Black soldier flies are considered to be sanitary, as they’re designed to break down the bacteria in their food.

They’re so efficient at this that there’s no bacteria in their waste once they’ve digested it.

In fact, to survive they’ve had to develop an odour that repels other household pests from them.

How do You Eat The Black Soldier Fly?

To be exact, the larvae is what humans can eat, and they’re well worth trying out.

At this stage, they’re packed full of nutrients, as they’re looking to ingest as much as possible before they move to the fly stage of their life cycle.

Right now, the larvae are most often used in animal feed, as they’re a good source of protein and easy to farm.

However, more and more humans are looking into trying them out for themselves.

Black soldier flies best known for being an excellent source of protein.

They don’t create protein themselves, rather, they process protein from the things they eat.

BSFL contain up to 43% of protein and are rich in calcium and other nutrients.

In fact, you can even create flours from the insect themselves.

They’re perfect for those who are looking to obtain their protein from more ethically sound sources than regular farming.

Those that have tried the black soldier fly larvae say that when cooking it, they smell somewhat like potatoes. When you eat them, they taste nutty and meaty, with a texture of soft meat.

What Are The Benefits?

Ok, so you know that there’s lots of reasons why black soldier flies are a food that you’ve got to try out.

Why are they so beneficial?

Here are just some of the reasons why you should give them a try.

1. They’re Packed Full Of Energy

BSFL illustration

As larvae, black soldier flies eat and eat and eat.

They’ll just keep going, right until they hit the pupal stage and emerge as flies.

They do this because they’re essentially fattening themselves up for that final stage in their lifecycle.

In fact, they eat twice their own body weight every single day, so they can grow at a hugely accelerated rate.

Once they become flies, they’re basically not going to eat again.

At that point, they don’t even have functioning mouths. They basically live for a few days as they reproduce, and then they die off.

Why does this matter to you?

Because when you eat the larvae, you’re getting the benefit of all that energy.

You can take advantage of this, and redesign your diet to get that energy from a good, renewable and clean source such as the black soldier fly.

2. They’re A Clean Source Of Food

With any animal being raised for human consumption, they’ve got to be clean.

This goes for both before and after they’re harvested for their meat.

With regular meats this is a large undertaking, and costs a lot of time, money and effort in the processing plants.

It means you get a good, clean product, but you’ll be paying a lot more for it.

Black soldier flies, on the other hand, are a lot easier to keep at a food grade that’s edible by humans.

As mentioned earlier, their digestive processes kill any bacteria that they may encounter in their own food.

Even their waste is sanitary.

That means that it’s so much easier to find a clean food source in them.

 3. They Reproduce At Much Higher Rates

When you compare the black soldier fly to a cow, you’ll see that there’s much more value in the fly.

A cow can only give birth to one cow at a time usually, although there are rare cases where they can have two or even three. This is considered a historic event though, and you’d be very lucky to witness it.

Compare this to the black soldier fly. In most cases, the fly can lay up to 500 eggs easily in one go.

That’s a huge jump in production.

Don’t forget that the life cycle is much shorter than a cow’s too, meaning that you’ll have more produce coming in more regularly.

What could be better?

4. They’re Easy To Farm And They Harvest Themselves

If you’re farming your own black soldier flies at home, then you’ll find it easy to manage them.

In fact, the small larvae hate light.

So, when you want to harvest them, all you need to do is give them a bucket as a shelter, and they will harvest themselves!

Check this short video out to see how it works.

As a species, they’re not known to fly far as they have weak wings, and they’re not averse to being picked up.

As this is the case, you can set up your own black soldier fly farm.

Doing your own farming means that you can control how many flies you have at once, and harvest your larvae as soon as possible.

That way, you’re getting the freshest food that you can use almost right away. There really isn’t a way to farm organic protein fresher than this.

It’s certainly better than buying your protein sources at the store.

5. They Are Great At Converting Feed into Meat

The BSF larva is exceptionally good at converting feed into food. You may use 10 kg of feed to make 1 kg of beef and 2 kg of feed to make 1 kg of mealworms.

To produce 1 kg Black soldier larvae you’ll need only around 1.5 kg of feed!

6. They Have An Incredibly Short Life Span

The Black soldier fly larva has a life cycle of only 6 weeks. Including egg, larva, pupa and fly stage.

By comparison, mealworm use 9 weeks on the same process.

This is WAY shorter than any mammal or bird.

7. Raising Black Soldier Flies Is Much More Ethical

We all know the stories of chickens and other animals being raised in less than ideal conditions.

You’ve seen the pictures of animals being kept in tiny cages and horrible surroundings. It’s awful, and you know that when you’re buying their meat, you’re contributing to this practice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love burgers too.

But it sucks!

If you try reducing your meat consumption and start eating some insects, such as black soldier flies, instead, you’can make a real difference.

Black soldier flies are much easier to keep and farm.

They naturally thrive in higher densities, and prefer to stay close together.

Farming them is much more humane and practical than most other livestock.

8. They’re Almost Indestructible

If you’re thinking of farming your own black soldier flies, then you’re probably worrying about keeping them alive long enough to harvest.

In fact, they’re super easy to take care of.

They’ll eat almost any organic matter and thrive on it.

Some insect farming companies will feed them food that’s been rejected for human consumption, but is still of good quality.

In fact, those flies can survive almost anything.

For example, they can survive being immersed in pure rubbing alcohol for two hours, or even being spun in a centrifuge!

Of course, you’re not going to be doing that in your kitchen, but it’s good to know it’s easy to take care of them.

9. They’re A Lot Better For The Environment

As mentioned above, raising and buying black soldier fly larvae for consumption is so much more environmentally friendly than most regular meats.

For example, keeping a pig for consumption means the farmer will have to bring in food to feed it, and use resources to house it until it’s time to be slaughtered.

These will have their own impact on the environment, and once the meat has been harvested from it, there’s going to be even more.

As we’ve already pointed out, once that meat has been packaged and delivered to your supermarket it’s going to have a massive carbon footprint.

Black soldier flies though?

The impact they have is negligible.

They’ll eat anything, so there’s no specialist food that needs to be brought in for them.

They can be kept in small containers without issue, and even if you’re farming to sell them, they don’t take up a lot of room.

In fact, you can produce a ton of larvae in a farm that’s the size of a SMART car!

They can even be sent through the post, so there’s a lot less pollution in moving them around.

10. They Taste Delicious

Finally, once you’ve got those black soldier fly larvae, you’re going to want to eat them.

Plenty of people simply eat them whole as a snack.

This is a great way to enjoy them.

There aren’t many recipes available online, but making foods with BSFL is pretty straight forward.

For example, you can try a black soldier fly and tomato rice dish. Or you can simply roast them in the oven and add spices of your choice.

Any recipe where the larvae can be sprinkled in is a great way to enjoy them.

11. They’re Solving The Food Waste Problem

Farming black soldier flies is one of the best ways to deal with food waste that can’t go anywhere else.

Farmers, whether they’re farming the flies for animal or human consumption, find that they can feed their flies anything that can’t be used elsewhere.

This farmer, for example, found that he can feed his flies brewery grain waste, or waste from ethanol production.

This is amazing as it means there’s much less waste happening overall.

Again, if you’re concerned about the environment, then you’ll be glad to hear that your new favourite snack can actually help save the planet, even when it’s still being farmed.

12. You Can Buy Foods Made With Black Soldier Flies, Already

Already now, you can buy foods made with BSF larvae. Last year, the company Enorm from Denmark, launched the world’s first Fly larvae cookies (Fluekiks).

This year, they opened the world’s biggest fully automatized fly larvae farm.

They are planning to produce BSF for food and feed.


beneficial insects in the landscape

About 120,000 different species of flies annoy folks around the world. They are found everywhere including the Antarctica. Sometimes it is hard to remember that flies are an integral part of our ecosystems.

Flies can be beneficial and necessary, aiding in controlling other insect pests, acting as pollinators, recyclers and scavengers, and they are also a part of the food chain. Remember only bees (and a few wasps) pollinate more plants than flies.

The multi-beneficial black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is probably the best-known member of the Stratiomyidae family in the Diptera order. Diptera is taken from the Greek “di,” which means two, and “ptera” meaning wings, as most flies only have two wings.

Aristotle used the term more than 2300 years ago. In the order, Diptera, the word “fly” is always separate from the rest of the common name. Insects of other fly orders are always written as one word, such as dragonflies and sawflies. But we digress. The black soldier fly is one of a group of true flies. They are found mostly in the tropical/subtropical Western Hemisphere and Australia, breeding in compost, manure and outdoor toilets.

Black soldier flies can be seen in bright, sunlit areas, resting on nearby structures or vegetation and frequenting flowers of the daisy and carrot families. They are one of the most beneficial flies in existence and are considered non-pests. The adult black soldier fly does not have mouthparts and does not feed upon waste. They do not bite, and as only the larva feed, are not associated with transmitting any diseases. Also, this species makes the breeding areas of houseflies less desirable.

The hale and hearty adults are about 7/8-inch long. Adult black soldier flies are weak fliers and will spend their time resting in and around animal production facilities. They are black with dusky wings held over their backs when reposing. The black soldier fly’s first abdominal segment has two clear areas near its second segment giving it a “wasp waist”.

Gender-wise, the female’s abdomen is reddish at the top and the male’s abdomen is rather bronze. Their upper legs are black with white-yellow tarsi or forelegs. Black soldier fly’s antennae are elongated, projecting forward from the head, which is tapered and does not have an arista (sensory organ of touch).

Adult black soldier flies might be mistaken for an organ pipe mud dauber wasp as both have long antennae, the same pale colored tarsi, and the two small transparent areas in the abdominal segments. Adults appear as early as April but many do not emerge until late summer. However, it is the black solider fly’s larva that is of most interest.

This species mates in flight and females deposit egg masses (about 500 eggs) near edges of decaying organic matter. Eggs incubate anywhere from four days to three weeks before hatching. The oval egg can be up to 0.039 inches in length. Initially the egg is a cream color but darkens over time. Once hatched, the larva is an off-white and about 0.07 inch long.

As it develops through six instars, it becomes a reddish-brown. Mature larva can be anywhere from 1/8 to over an inch in length and quite plump. Larvae have been described as “torpedo-shaped and slightly flattened” with an exoskeleton, or skin, that is firm, tough, and leathery, and its back has spiracles (breathing pores). The yellow to black head is tiny and narrow.

What is of interest is that larvae are being used in manure management. Not only does the black soldier fly larva do its duty in manure reduction, but carries through as a feed supplement, and battles bravely in the war of pest fly control. Best of all, this is all interwoven. Read on, as this is really cool stuff.

First off, manure management reduces environmental damage that can result from large accumulations of manure. Black soldier fly larvae are scavengers and thrive on many kinds of decomposing organic matter, including algae, carrion, compost heaps, manure, mold, plant refuse, and the waste products of beehives.

They have large and powerful chewing mouthparts allowing them to shred and devour waste. These gluttonous little creatures are able to digest organic compound before the compounds have time to decompose, thereby immediately eliminating odor. The black soldier fly larva’s digestive system leaves behind a fraction of the original weight and volume of waste.

Statistically, food waste in the United States, could be significantly reduced and waste reduction of farm animals (chickens and pigs) might even reach 75%. Simply put, manure is rapidly decomposed by the black soldier fly larvae, greatly reducing the amount and odor, along with any potential disease problems.

Secondly, this non-pest larvae converts the manure’s nutrients into 42% protein and 35% fat feedstuff. This conversion of waste into feedstuff is called bioconversion and, consequently, the larvae can be fed right back to the animals or birds that generated the waste or used as feed for fish or livestock. It can be ground up and fed to earthworms or red worms for a second round or just used as compost. The larva is dry, friable, and odorless.

In addition, many experts believe that the high calcium content of the larvae (also called “phoenix worms”) may halt or reverse the effects of metabolic bone disease. This biomass, of larvae harvested nutrients, is worth about the same as meat and bone or fishmeal. It can be easily and economically transported, unlike unprofitable manure, and reduces the need to import concentrates that are added to other types of feed.

Thirdly, the larva’s eating style discourages the development of pest flies. As large populations of black soldier fly larvae churn manure, they make it more liquid and less suitable for, not only egg-laying (oviposition) by the pest fly, but the actual development of the pest fly’s larvae, thus reducing them substantially.