soldier fly larvae

michael

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In the past I've used soldier fly larvae (phoenix worms tm.). In my search for a variety of foods I came across something called a biopod. You put compost material in the biopod. The biopod attracts adult soldier flies that lay their eggs in it. Larvae hatch out and you harvest them. It sounds simple and should supply some food. Some potential draw backs are it is expensive and has to be used outside in an area where soldier flies are present. You can't use it in cold temperatures. I know soldier flies are in my area because I raised some from larvae in entomology class back in the dark ages.

Do any of you have any experience raising soldier fly larvae? It is getting late in the year to start this project but I'm seriously thinking about it for next year.
 

taherman

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Interesting...I've never heard of the biopod before. We looked into culturing soldier flies before, but the breeding process is way too complicated to accommodate indoors.

Please post updates if you purchase one, and I'll do the same.
Thanks,

Tim
 

michael

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Hi Tim,
You are correct you can't easily culture them indoors. They do best cultured outdoors with the eggs being laid by wild soldier flies. The publicity material says the unit can be set up on the balcony of an apartment if necessary. They have to be shaded and I think the flies do some kind of mating flight before laying eggs. You can purchase soldier flies or I suppose you could hatch larvae to seed your biopod. I'm in Pennsylvania and it would be a seasonal thing for me. I'll probably set up a biopod in the spring and give it a shot.

I think it would only be a worthwhile effort for somebody with a large collection to feed or who has a keen interest in composting, organic gardening, and reducing their carbon footprint. All apply to me.
 

taherman

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I'm hoping to convince the zoo to buy one for the same reasons to see how it works. We usually have a surplus of large phoenix worms sitting around anyway. It should be easy enough to re-start every spring.
 

John

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I've been reading all about this. It certainly would seem to be a great idea if your climate is amenable to it. Here is a good website about them and the biopod:

http://blacksoldierflyblog.com/
 

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When I lived in Virginia, I kept my worm compost bin outdoors in a shady location, and every summer it was full of soldier flies and their grubs. At the time, I didn't realize that these grubs would be good newt food. Thus, this will work, but the soldier flies may take some time to "find" the location. Co-culture with worms works just fine and would provide both kinds of food.

I'm wondering if seeding the culture with Phoenix worms might be a bad idea. If this specific soldier fly species isn't native, it would amount to releasing a non-native insect species.
 

michael

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I know soldier flies are found in Pa. because I raised some larvae found in a compost pile. Soldier fly larvae do show up in my worm bins sometimes. They should be much easier to harvest in the biopod. I'm mostly interested in harvesting them at smaller sizes that I wouldn't be able to find mixed in with my worms.
 

fishkeeper

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The biopod thing is meant to facilitate harvest of full grown soldierflies...so I'm not sure how it would be better than a worm bin unless you want those.

Do they make good newt food?
 

luvmycreatures

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I tried some of these on my toads and they pooped them out whole. Doesn't that mean that they're difficult to digest? My toads haven't ever pooped out anything whole other than these larvae.
 

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Michael - there are many different species of soldier fly with different native ranges. I'll try to find out where the "phoenix worm" species is native to.

Luvmy - where did you get the larvae? Were they commercial phoenix worms, or a local species you found? It's likely that the phoenix worm species was selected for its palatability, and maybe not all soldier flies make good food.
 

freves

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I am not totally sold on phoenix worms. I have used them perhaps a half dozen times with mixed success. Generally my animals that will eat anything offered usually snap them right up. More than a few individuals however seem to find them distasteful and spit them out. My biggest complaint is the time it takes to clean off the bedding that they are packed in, it seems to stick to everything.
Chip
 

luvmycreatures

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Jennewt-
It was the commercial brand sold specifically for feeding critters. I got them from Wormman. The toads LOVED them but I've just never seen another food choice come out whole.
 

michael

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Michael - there are many different species of soldier fly with different native ranges. I'll try to find out where the "phoenix worm" species is native to.

Phoenix worm is just a trade name for black soldier fly larvae. When I cultured a soldier fly larvae that was in my compost pile it turned into an adult black soldier fly. It's still pinned up somewhere in my attic. From what I've read I should have no problem with them showing up in my area.

I can see how a bigger larvae could pass whole through a toad with some size to it. I'm planning to harvest small larvae for a replacement for 1/8" crickets along with larger larvae.
 

taherman

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We feed them as part of a varied diet to our spray toads, and I do see them passed whole sometimes, but other times the "skin" is empty.

I have a Gyrinophilus larva that takes them from my fingers, and I pinch the head of the worm before feeding it. The inside is digestable, but that calcium rich exoskeleton may inhibit digestion in some cases unless ruptured. I never see whole worms passed by the gyro.
-Tim
 

onetwentysix

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The Biopods are really expensive, but all you really need is a 20 gallon tupperware with a hole cut in the side and some small holes for drainage on the bottom. Add some wet dog food and table scraps, cover, and wait. Eventually, the flies will take over and you're set without having to pay $100+ for a Biopod.
 
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