The adult BSF colony, as I like to say, is the heartbeat of any BSF production system, regardless of size (industry or backyard); if you want to produce larvae consistently each day, you have to have a steady supply of eggs. As pointed out in previous posts, adult BSF need sunlight to breed. Males like to compete in lekking sites for females that cross their paths. And, in most cases, the rate of reproduction correlates with the level of sunlight available at the time. Lots of good sunlight with a healthy and young adult population typically translates into high reproductive success.
Initial Efforts to Explain Light and Relationship to BSF Mating: One of the first papers to study the relationship between light and mating was published in the Journal of Entomological Science in 2002. This study demonstrated this relationship in the broadest sense. Basically, mating occurred in the morning and as the sun progressed through the day, mating decreased. Oviposition (egg-laying) on the other hand, occurred through the day. Here are links to the article as well as the dissertation from which the article was produced.
Artificial Light Used to Stimulate BSF Mating in 2010: Since this publication 2002, efforts have been focused on the development of artificial light so a colony can become independent from natural sunlight. A study was published in 2010 that demonstrated some lights result in adult mating while other lights do not. For example, they tested quartz-iodine lamps and rare earth lamps. They determined the quartz-iodine lamp produced 61% mating rate in comparison to those exposed to sunlight. The rare earth lamps did not work at all. Since that work, some individuals have attempted to explore indoor mating of the BSF (many industrialized BSF would prefer artificial light if it would translate into predictable production of fertile eggs).
Small Colony Maintenance and Artificial Light in 2012: This study used two 40-W fluorescent lights and one 20-W LED as their light source. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but you can read the article (see below) to determine the specifics on what was used. The results were similar to the previous study with regards to natural sunlight being the best. However, as you know, sunlight availability changes throughout the year in many locations throughout the world and for stable production alternate light sources are needed.
First Major Detailed Study of Spectral Response of the BSF in 2016: The authors did a great job exploring the responses of BSF eyes to different wavelengths of light. They used electrophysiological measurements to determine BSF response to UV-, blue, and green light. They suggested indoor lighting systems should use these types of light to enhance mating by the BSF. This study also demonstrated LED lights resulted in fertilized eggs- something you obviously want to produce. Here is the link to the abstract of the publication.
Here are some videos on the topic as well as colony maintenance:
There are also old posts from other blogs on the use of artificial light for indoor BSF colony maintenance:
And there is a patent on artificial light (possibly more than just this one):
I hope this information proves useful. And until next time, best of luck and happy BSF farming!
Jeff Tomberlin, PhD, BSF producer
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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