Maintaining a BSF colony that is proficient in digesting organic waste that can vary in terms of nutritional makeup as well as delivery rate (i.e., hard to predict in some instances when you will receive waste and at what amount) can be a challenge (discussion on selecting strains of BSF for optimal waste conversion and protein production will be discussed in next post).
As far as colony maintenance, there are a host of factors that impact output (i.e., eggs/day). Having a strong adult population is obvious; however, maintaining the adult population can be a challenge. One way to maximize adult numbers in your colony is to stagger your adult production. Typically, BSF producers are at the mercy of the weather and their colony (when working in a greenhouse or other outdoor facilities). However, maintaining indoor colonies (climate control) is also challenging as adult emergence patterns can vary. Basically, you have adults when they are available.
One study provides a method for building up a reserve adult population through delaying adult emergence. As most know, insects are diurnal (i.e., daytime activity), and photo-responsive, which means insects respond to the amount of light they receive each day. Throughout temperate regions of the world, seasonal changes result in varying amounts of daylight. This factor partly regulates the development cycle of many insects (including BSF) as such cues indicate weather conditions could be changing to be more hospitable for their development (i.e., spring) or detrimental (i.e., fall or winter). So, as one would expect as day lengthens, many insects will accelerate/complete development and emerge. And, the opposite happens during the fall and winter- insects develop slower or enter diapause (a form of hibernation).
Holmes, L. A., S. L. VanLaerhoven, J. K. Tomberlin, and C. Brent. 2017. Photophase duration affects immature black soldier fly (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) development. Environmental Entomology 46: 1439-1447.
1. Storing pupae at different light exposure periods impacts adult emergence patterns.
2. Placing prepupae/pupae in a completely dark environment can extend pupation time by almost double the time.
3. Find a balance- too much time in the pupal stage also increases mortality.
Things to Consider:
1. This study is for a population out of Texas, USA. If you are in a more northern climate, your population might be more sensitive to light duration.
2. We do not know the impact on egg production. While, the researchers in this study were able to extend development (potentially allowing the creation of a reserve), we do not know if such an energy investment by the larvae impacts egg production by resulting adults.
Insects as Food & Feed in the News....
Not much in the media this week- so I challenge you all to keep engaging the public. The more people learn about our industry, the faster it grows!
The Economist- Much of the same as far as general information on insect production. But, to be featured in such a high profile journal is a win for the industry as the readership is quite broad.
Washington Post- Another great location for discussion of insects as food and feed. The article focuses on two companies in Texas (EVO being one of them) as a means to discuss the BSF and its potential. Others are interviewed as well- Fluker Farms and EnviroFlight.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Introduced My Kids to 80s Rock this Summer
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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