Black Soldier Fly Larva at the Manna Farm!!!

Here at the Manna Farm we have started raising Black Soldier Flies and their larvae!!! Keep reading to find out why…

Black soldier flies are small, harmless insects that have the potential to provide promising solutions to two of modern agriculture’s growing problems: the high cost of animal feed and the disposal of large amounts of animal waste. [1] Recent research has indicated that black soldier fly may be instrumental in closing the loop between animal waste and animal feed.[2] Black soldier flies (BSF) can not bite or sting, and unlike house flies, they are not transmitters of human diseases ( 

The adults are not attracted to human habitation and thus pose a significantly lower risk of disease transmission than other fly species. [3] The black soldier fly is a native insect to North America and is found throughout many parts of the United States. In the U.S. they are most active and common in the southeast. They are also found throughout the Western Hemisphere. Black soldier flies are especially abundant in the subtropics and warm temperate regions.[4] The adults (winged stage) only live a few days for the purpose of mating and therefore do not migrate between waste matter and humans or their food as pest flies do.  However, it is not the adults that we desire for feed and composting of waste materials.  

That is the job of the larvae. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) will eat nearly any kind of organic waste ranging from animal waste to food scraps. As the BSFL mature, they grow into 1⁄2- inch-long grubs, at which point they climb out of their food source and turn into pupae. The pupae can immediately be fed to chickens and are a good source of protein. They can also be dried and processed into feed for use at a later time. Small composting operations also allow them to turn into flies and breed, propagating the population (Bullock 2013).
BSFL or “grubs” are uniquely suited to serve humans. While the BSF adults only live for a few days their larvae can live for several weeks, and during that time they can consume huge quantities of food waste or manure. Consequently they are very well suited to process the constant stream of rotting waste that we humans produce as well as manure produced by livestock. There are two useful byproducts of this process; the residue or castings which can be used as a soil amendment, and the larvae themselves which represent an excellent source of food for many types of animals including chickens, pigs, rabbits and fish.[5] According to a study performed in Texas by ERS International (ERSI 2008), BSFL are composed of 42.1% protein. There are even some people currently converting the BSFL into biodiesel by pressing the larvae for oil and then converting it into a useable fuel source.[6] Here at the Manna Farm we plan on experimenting with all these beneficial uses.




[1] Bullock, Chapin, Evans, Elder, Givens, Jeffay, Pierce, and Robinson, The Black Soldier Fly How-to-Guide (University of North Carolina Institute For The Environment),, 2013
[2] Watson, W., L. Newton, C. Sheppard, G. Burtle, and R. Dove, 2005. Using the Black Soldier Fly as a Value-Added Tool for the Management of Swine Manure. North Carolina State Univer: Raleigh NC

[3] Newton, G. L., D. C. Sheppard, D. W. Watson, G. J. Burtle, C. R. Dove, J. K. Tomberlin, and E. E. Thelen, 1984. “The Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, as a manure management/resource recovery tool.” Symposium on the state of the science of Animal Manure and Waste Management: 5-7.

[4] Tomberlin, J. K., and D. C. Sheppard, 2001. “Lekking Behavior of the Black Soldier Fly (Diptera:Stratiomyidae)”. The Florida Entomologist 84.4: 729–730.


1 Comment

  1. Torrey Clark on November 20, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Make sure to listen to Gage Coldwater interviewed on Culture Shock podcast on the topic of: "When Helping Helps – Doing Benevolence Right," where he discusses The Manna Project:

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