You’ve been thinking about that Medi Bowl all day long and you can’t help but feel excitement when your food arrives. Just when you’re about to dig into that delectable beet hummus a fly buzzes by, and lands smack dab in the middle of your plate. Ugh! Flies are so irritating and icky. Well…at least houseflies are, but not all flies are alike.
If you’re cruising at ʻAi Love and see a fly like the ones here in these pictures, consider yourself lucky because you’ve just encountered one of the coolest insects around. Yup, it’s a fly – a black soldier fly (BSF) to be exact. But, unlike their annoying cousins, they are actually very helpful. In essence, they are nature’s ultimate food recyclers. They don’t bite, sting, transmit diseases, or create a nuisance. In fact, they’re quite friendly and assist us in controlling an irruption of the common housefly and fruit flies at our restaurant.
The BSF has one mission in life, and that is to procreate. Without a working mouth, the fly spends its entire adult life (approximately two weeks) looking for decomposing plant matter to lay her eggs (luckily she has a lot of plant matter to choose from in our compost bins :).
Once born, the BSF larvae begin to consume the scraps of food surrounding them – and boy they eat! Even your hefty appetite is no comparison – these little guys would put you to shame, as a full colony of BSF larvae can eat up to 25 pounds of food per day! They eat so fast, that the food hardly has time to decompose.
The larvae remain on the food source as they pass through several sub-stages of growth until they are ready to burrow into the earth to complete their development into adulthood. When the larvae are ready to pupate (around 2 to 4 weeks after eggs are laid), they secrete their digestive system, lose their mouth, and produce an antibiotic coating. Thus, unlike house flies, they cannot carry diseases between waste and the food we plan to eat. This also makes them safe to be used as feedstock for chickens and fish. In particular, the BSF larvae is an excellent source of protein, balanced lipids, and calcium for the fish in your aquaponics system. The BSF larvae comprise of approximately 34%-45% protein, 42% fat, 7% fiber, and 5% calcium.
Besides helping us to recycle our food waste at ʻAi Love, they also nutrify our soil, which helps to promote the growth of our healthy plants, herbs, flowers, and fruit trees in our Garden of Eatin’.
So, the next time a fly lands on your plate, pause for a moment and see if it’s a BSF. If so, just say hello, and remember she’s one of the cool insect friends we happily share our space with here at ʻAi Love.