Hello everyone, Jonathan here; I hope you have enjoyed all the past posts on different aspects of soldier fly biology. As Jeff mentioned in an earlier post, we would be having an upcoming post on nutrition and black soldier flies. I think this is a pretty broad, and very important topic, so although this is the first post, it certainly won't be the last on the subject.
Like all organisms, what soldier flies eat impacts many aspects of their life, like how fast they grow, how big they get, how long they live, and so on. As many of you are aware, soldier flies have a voracious appetite for many "foods", ranging from plant products to animal tissue, and even animal manure. Now just because they are able to eat these different things, doesn't mean all foods were created equal in the eyes of a larval soldier fly.
In a recent paper by Dr. Tomberlin and myself, we looked at how moisture and nutrient content of the larval diet impacts their life history. It was no surprise that we found soldier flies prefer their food to be on the wetter end of the spectrum (between 55 and 70% moisture), and development is positively correlated with moisture within this range. Additionally, some early work on soldier fly development in poultry manure showed that they performed best in manure that was 40-70% moisture. The real surprise was the impact of dietary protein and carbohydrate content on their development: eating a "balanced" diet had the most positive effects on the solder flies in comparison to the other diets. Larvae developed the slowest and required the most feed when provided carbohydrate or protein biased diets. So think about this type of information when feeding your soldier flies. Just because a bunch of fruit has gone bad in your refrigerator doesn't mean you need to feed it to you soldier flies all at once. If you can mix carbohydrate-rich and high moisture items with other items that can absorb moisture and balance out the nutrients, I'm sure your soldier flies will thank you, and likely do a much better job recycling the material.
In some future posts I'll be talking about nutrition in "real-world scenarios", and how you can use this to your advantage.
Jonathan A. Cammack, Ph.D.
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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