Once you collect your BSF larvae, you need to decide how best to dry them so that you can store them potentially long-term (outside of freezing) or use as a treat or feed. This paper is the first to my knowledge on this topic- drying technique.
Huang, C., W. Feng, J. Xiong, T. Wang, W. Wang, C. Wang, and F. Yang. 2018. Impact of drying method on the nutritional value of the edible insect protein from black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens L.) larvae: amino acid composition, nutritional value evaluation, in vitro digestibility, and thermal properties. Eur Food Res Technol.
The study examined two techniques- 1) oven dry, and 2) microwave dry. Based on their study, they conclude oven dry results in a more digestible product and retains higher levels of valine and lysine. However, if you read the results, you notice that this limitation is nutrient specific. Some amino acids remain higher with microwave drying rather than conventional oven drying.
Data from the study indicate composition of many amino acids was higher than those levels desired by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations- this is good news.
The authors conclude that conventional drying results in a better product as related to Digestible indispensable amino acid score and digestibility; however, both methods resulted in product that exceeded FAO/WHO standards for indispensable amino acid levels.
I would hesitate to draw broad conclusions based off of this study alone. A question that comes to my mind is- can the process be refined (drying process- either oven or microwave) to optimize amino acid composition and digestibility?
An interesting point made in the paper is related to amino acid composition and how it impacts flavor- something that should be pursued further. Does drying method impact flavor?
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, excited about drying method results
This post is a bit off my typical path of this blog, but I just couldn't pass it up. This paper offers a great overview of how animal production (vertebrates mostly) impacts the environment. The authors recognize the limitations of the study, but point out that many of the typical industries in livestock, poultry, and aquaculture have a major impact on the environment in terms of:
The study was conducted by reviewing 148 previous studies assessing animal source food production. The article can be found at:
Hilborn, R., J. Banobi, S. J. Hall, T. Pucylowski, and T. E. Walsworth. 2018. The environmental cost of animal source foods. Front Ecol Environ 16: 329-335.
Based on what is known about insect farming, while not perfect, insects definitely have less of an impact on the environment when produced at a large scale- great news for the BSF!
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Appreciating larger view of livestock industry
Great studies keep rolling in! Nice job by colleagues and friends in USA (Mark Finke) and abroad (Dennis Oonincx & Guido Bosch)!
Oonincx, D. G. A. B., P. van Keulen, M. D. Finke, F. M. Baines, M. Vermeulen, and G. Bosch. 2018. Evidence of vitamin D synthesis in insects exposed to UVb light. Scientific Reports 8: 10807.
Cool study examining the ability of insects to produce vitamin D (hence my reference to "got milk"- apologies, my humor can be a bit dry. :) While I jest, I would like to seriously point out this ability could be important for generating designer insects with specific uses. Increasing vitamins or other nutrients through dietary or environmental manipulation could result in novel insect proteins or other subcomponents that could prove valuable to the livestock, poultry, aquaculture, and reptile industries.
From this study with house cricket, mealworm, migratory locus, and BSF is that the first three can synthesize vitamin D3 (as stated in the conclusion). If I am not mistaken, the discussion also suggests BSF can synthesize D2 (different than results (D3) other species tested).
I highly recommend this article as they provide a great discussion on vitamin D and its relevance to vertebrate health.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD
This week I have had the opportunity to visit a BSF facility in Ecuador. There are a number of aspects with this facility that I am impressed with ranging from the location (awesome climate year around) to the resources available (various organic waste streams, large aquaculture industry).
Some of the highlights include:
1- Amazing opportunity for sustainable agriculture with a link to BSF
2-Resources of organic waste that can be used for BSF production
3-Community commitment to sustainable agriculture
4-Market for product produced
5-Climate! Climate! Climate! Temperature is amazing.. humidity is perfect.... light:dark cycle cannot be any better.
I am working to introduce industry from Ecuador to researchers at Texas A&M (TAMU) with the hopes of linking them to further develop the BSF, while enhancing TAMU network there.
Here are some photos of my work with BSF in Ecuador along with some of the sites. I hope you enjoy!
Jeffery Tomberlin, PhD, Pride in BSF Production in Ecuador
Great study by my colleagues in South Africa!
As you know, a number of studies have been published on the production of BSF or its use as a feed ingredient; however, few have take this work to the next level and examined the impact of including BSF as part of a diet on the flavor and other characteristics of the livestock consuming it.
Well, our colleagues have done such a study for poultry.
Elsje, P., E. S. W, U. Tulimo, and H. L. C. Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) pre-pupae meal as a dietary protein source for broiler production ensures a tasty chicken with standard meat quality for every pot. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 0.
Their results indicate including 15% BSF in the diet of poultry (broiler) flavor or other characteristics! Nice job!
So my question... how high can we go with inclusion of BSF as part of a broiler's diet?
Michigan State University and EVO Consortium Looking to Establish BSF and Waste Mangement Facilities in Malawi
Efforts through Drs. Eric Benbow and Jen Pechal of Michigan State University (MSU) have been a part of the EVO Consortium for about six months. During that time, they have worked very hard to establish a growing partnership with faculty and students at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and the University of Malawi College of Medicine with support from the Alliance for African Partnership program at MSU. The efforts are starting to produce fruit and show excellent promise for BSF work in the future. My trip to Malawi with Eric and Jen this past week resulted in discussion resulting in the development of a game plan aimed at, in part, seeking funding through granting agencies, foundations, or investors that will allow:
If anyone is interested in learning more about these projects in Malawi, please feel free to contact Dr. Benbow (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Pechal (email@example.com).
EVO Building Collaborations with Michigan State and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi
For the past week I, along with my colleagues at Michigan State University (Drs. Eric Benbow & Jen Pechal) have been visiting with researchers in Lilongwe about insects as food and feed. Part of the week was spent in Lilongwe while the other half has been at Lake Malawi.
They have an active research program in Malawi on insects as food and feed with students conducting studies on termites, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and mealworm. Their goals are to establish a research program on black soldier fly as well which could result in their students visiting my lab at Texas A&M to conduct research.
I, as a researcher at Texas A&M (the other cap I wear besides the one at EVO), am pleased to announce a key publication in collaboration with colleagues in China. I am excited, not only because we were successful in publishing it, but because of what we learned from the study. Great job Minmin, Jibin and team.
We determined BSF larvae in conjunction with associated bacteria are capable of degrading tetracycline in animal waste. Another feather in the proverbial cap of the BSF and insects as food.... feed.... and bioremediators!
Cai, M., S. Ma, R. Hu, J. K. Tomberlin, C. Yu, Y. Huang, S. Zhan, W. Li, L. Zheng, Z. Yu, and J. Zhang. 2018. Systematic characterization and proposed pathway of tetracycline degradation in solid waste treatment by Hermetia illucens with intestinal microbiota. Environmental Pollution.
The number of studies examining the use of BSF as a feed replacement for poultry and other livestock has been increasing annually. This is good news as more work is needed to determine the appropriate inclusion rate of BSF meal as a replacement of soy, corn, and other plant/animal (fishmeal) ingredients.
This study examined the including of 5 or 7.5% BSF meal in the diet (ad libitum) of egg-producing chickens. The results for egg quality were positive as related to shell thickness, egg shell breaking strength, and yolk color. So, there are benefits for egg production; however, the feed conversion rates were not as good as the control diet (without BSF meal).
You can access the paper at:
Mwaniki, Z., M. Neijat, and E. Kiarie. 2018. Egg production and quality responses of adding up to 7.5% defatted black soldier fly larvae meal in a corn–soybean meal diet fed to Shaver White Leghorns from wk 19 to 27 of age. Poultry Sci: pey118-pey118.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Supporter of BSF as a feed replacement of poultry
A Great Dissertation on the Black Soldier Fly- Contains Great Review as well as Studies Examining Nutrition and Density on BSF Development
This Sunday afternoon I spent it doing what I typically do- cruising the internet in search of new information on the BSF. And, to my delight, I came across this wonderful PhD dissertation. I highly recommend it to those interested in gaining a stronger appreciation for what is known about this species while also reading about research conducted by the student on BSF and the role of nutrition and density on development. I also like the art work!
Like with most studies, these were done at a bench top scale. So, take these results with a grain of salt as their application at an industrial scale may not translate into similar outputs. Furthermore, I am not sure of the origins of the BSF colony used for the research. So, it is not clear how the results translate to different populations. With that said- all studies should result in voucher specimens placed in a museum.
Barragán-Fonseca, K. B. 2018. Flies are What They Eat: Tailoring Nutrition of Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens L.) for Larval Biomass Production. PhD, Wageningen University.
Chapters 1&2 focus on the background of the species. I am very impressed by the student's writing and thoroughness (nice publication from this chapter in: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed: 3 (2) - Pages: 105 - 120; but you can access everything in the dissertation- link provided, simply click on citation above).
Chapter 3 explores the impact of of larval density and dietary nutrient concentration on performance, body protein and fat contents of BSF.
Chapter 4 dietary protein and carbohydrates on BSF.
Chapter 5 explored the development of BSF on vegetable waste diets where they were formulated based on nutritional makeup.
Chapter 6 also explored nutrition (protein and carbohydrates) on BSF development.
Chapter 7 is a summary chapter of the research conducted.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, and not an artist!
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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