When I think about producing black soldier fly (BSF) larvae, one of the greatest challenges encountered is determining what is best to feed them so that I get optimal BSF larval production and individual size (it does matter). You have to remember that BSF larvae grow from less than 0.01 g to potentially 0.5 g. So, what you feed them early will impact if they survive and what they become. So, for this post, I will break down the discussion into two parts; 1) particle size of larval feed over time (as larvae grow, 2) impact of nutrition (will be discussed in more detail in future blog posts), 3) where to feed them, and 4) when to feed them.
Particle size- one thing I have noticed when viewing images of food waste being provided larvae is that in many cases the feed is actual human quality food. I can tell from the images that carrots, potatoes, and spinach are being provided... in their whole form. When working with BSF larvae, you want to avoid feeding them whole foods- you might consider breaking it up a bit. Maybe, if time permits, you might consider shredding it. Now, I don't want to create more work for you than is necessary as the process should be simple and easy to apply. So, at minimum, just break it up with your hands. The smallest he pieces of food, the easier it is for them to access the nutrients (surface area v. volume). Think of it like with your children (if you have any)- you don't give them a hamburger as their first meal. You give them food specifically for babies- something easily digested... something that is actually a paste. As they get older (the larvae), they can manage larger food fragments. By following these instructions, you should be able to get larvae to grow faster and with less mortality.
But what if I have mixed larvae (young and old)? Good question, I am glad you asked. You can go with larger feed size as the big larvae will fragment the food waste and make nutrients available for the smaller larvae.
I hope this information helps you be successful- but please let me know if there are specific topics you would like covered. We are here to help.
Until my next post- best of luck and happy black soldier fly farming!!
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, BSF ecologists
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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