Mass production of the BSF in colony is the heartbeat of all BSF facilities. I think we all recognize this aspect of BSF production. If you do not have adults mating and producing fertile eggs, you have a problem. So, a lot of effort has been placed on creating an ideal "love nest" for the adults to ensure maximum production of fertile BSF eggs (and their collection) is achieved. Through this process, a lot has been determined with regards to the need for proper light and other abiotic conditions (e.g., temperature and humidity) to allow for success.
One aspect of adult BSF behavior that has always intrigued me is the basic mating sequence that takes place between male and female BSF in a cage. Males sit around guarding a position and if another individual enters the "realm" of the male, he will either chase the male away or attempt to mate with the female. Now, I have to admit, there is a fair amount of speculation on my part with that statement. For all we know, males treat other males no different than a female entering their zone of influence. However, biology would dictate for efficiency sake that males would be able to recognize another male and distinguish him from a potential mate. Is this true? I am not sure can answer this question right now- but it is definitely something worth exploring.
So, how does this discussion relate to the title of this blog post? Well, a great study came out a couple of years ago examining the balancing organ (haltere) of the BSF that allows for it to navigate during flight. This topic is very relevant to the opening discussion as the male must be able to, with precision, locate the female, grab her, and gain access so he can deposit sperm for egg fertilization. Failure to do so could be the difference between mating and not mating successfully.
Article to Read:
Parween, R., and R. Pratap. 2014. Modelling of soldier fly halteres for gyroscopic oscillations. Biology Open.
The reason I would like you to read this paper is the authors did a great job describing the haltere of the BSF and its morphology and physiology. What I found fascinating is the flexibility of the organ (ability to bend). This aspect of the haltere is very relevant to mating and the abiotic factors regulated in your cages.
Humidity can increase or decrease the flexibility of the haltere due to his physiological makeup. Humidity too high could increase flexibility, while low humidity potentially would do the opposite. If this is the case- then determining the Goldilocks zone of humidity (the ideal range) would be critical to allow for males to fly with precision and efficiency when it comes to locating a mate.
Too high or low- and the male will be off course and strike out with his potential mate.
Definitely food for thought... what do you think is the ideal humidity range for the adult BSF?
Jeffery K Tomberlin, PhD, Amazed by Physics and Biology
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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