Yesterday, my dad told me:
“I saw a lot of flies as I was moving the potted plants and compost bins. They flew in swarms. I took an insecticide and sprayed them.”
I know you are probably curious – if not, shocked – about the flies. Like you, we hate to associate flies with composting, especially for apartment composting.
But first, I’d like to voice my slight annoyance about the need to shift all my apartment’s outdoor potted plants and compost bins up against our doorstep.
Apparently, there’s some construction work going on at our block over the next few days, and we were informed to make space for the workers. Now, entering or leaving my HDB’s apartment is like walking through an unexpected forest. (Sigh.)
Alright, now back to the flies.
Usually, I would quietly (internally) go berserk upon hearing about creepy crawlies. Mind you, I scream/squeal at dead cockroaches.
But over the past few days, Joe and I had the honour and pleasure of having a fellow composter chance upon this site and sharing his experiences with us through email.
He managed to identify the maggot-looking things in our compost bins as the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly.
Here are some points he shared in his email:
- Black Soldier Fly larvae look like maggots, off-white in colour with a segmented body (each segment looks like a ring)
- BSFs are beneficial insects – they are very good for food waste recycling
- They do not disturb humans
- If the flies in our compost bins are indeed BSF, we will see many more – the adult fly can lay about 900 eggs
Joe met him this afternoon too, and came back with more information about BSFs:
- They appear to be tame – they don’t immediately fly away, even in close proximity with humans
- They are only interested in rotting/rotten food
- Unlike normal houseflies, BSFs tend not to enter households
I still remember the day when we tried to identify the larvae with the help of my dad. He said that the larvae produce organisms that help to compost organic wastes, and that they are not harmful or poisonous to humans. However, he only went to as far as (mistakenly) identifying them as beetle larvae.
Well, at least my dad got it half right 🙂
So, I thought about how everything came together: My dad only noticed the flies when he moved the potted plants and compost bins. We also didn’t see the BSFs at all over the past few weeks, even though they were there all the time!
After having an insight about BSFs, I wish my dad didn’t wield a can of insecticide to get rid of them. For sure, we ain’t gonna do anything rash like that again. Right, daddy?
Nevertheless, we believe there must be several remaining and residing inside the compost bins!
To find out more about BSFs, you can refer to plenty of online resources. Joe might be doing some secondary research on BSFs too, so do check back often for more updates!