Black soldier flies (Hemetiaillucens) are insects that can rapidly turn your compost into nutritious soil. These calcium and protein-rich critters can also be fish or chicken feed when they try to escape from the bin.
As a college student that does not have enough space to own a large compost bin, I find it interesting that not much space is required to harvest the flies because you don't have to add bedding to the bins. When composting with worms, dry bedding is necessary because they cannot handle the intense moisture of the food scraps. This makes the black soldier fly bin much smaller than a worm bin while consuming the same amount of food waste, perhaps even more rapidly. "In the southern United States [black soldier fly bins] are being utilized to reduce hog manure, as they can consume up to 30 tons of hog manure in two days," according to Cindy Wise, compost specialist volunteer coordinator with the Lane County office of the Oregon State University Extension Service. They can out-compete worms in the compost. In this video link, they eat two fish in 20 hours.
According to the Walden Effect Organization, “black soldier flies have the potential to quickly compost all kinds of organic waste, from swine excrement in huge factory farms to food scraps from apartment-dwellers with no room for a compost pile.”
Black soldier flies are mostly found in the Southern United States all year, but they do dwell in the northern United States also. This map from http://bugguide.net shows us where these bugs are primarily found, indicated by the darker states.
The larvae self-harvest, meaning that they enter a stage called “prepupae” where they empty their gut, grow appendages, and try to find a dry sheltered place to pupate or complete transformation to adulthood. People that harvest black soldier flies have an extra bin connected to the compost bin for the flies to crawl out and pupate in. They crawl“right into a collection bucket so that you can feed them to your chickens, lizards, fish, or other critters." –WaldenEffect.org
Another fantastic aspect of the flies is that they are not harmful to humans! Jaden Hair says in her article on these composting wizards that, “BSF are good guys!” They don’t bite or carry diseases for humans. She continues to say, “They’re not considered pests – they aren’t naturally attracted to humans or food (they’re attracted to decaying matter.) They don’t bite or sting. They don’t buzz around you and pretty much stay clear of the people. “
Unlike common compost bins, meat, dairy, and fish can be placed in a compost bin with these flies because the eager larvae eat them before they can spoil.
To make your own compost bin, you would need veggie or fruit scraps and dried leaves or pine shavings in a bin with, of course, the black soldier flies. You can attract them by creating the right environment for them or ordering the larvae online. You can learn how to attract them here.