Table of Contents
What are Black Soldier Fly Larvae?
Black Soldier Fly Larvae are the larval stage of the Hermetia Illucens. They have numerous benefits, acting as a great source of nutrition for your beloved pet. And, by also improving the environment as highly efficient bioremediation composters.
They are highly voracious, and will compost more waste than redworms. Their waste, called frass, is a nutritional supplement for many gardeners, and can be purchased from our store.
Black Soldier Fly Lifecycle
- Egg - Day 1 - 4
- Larva - Day 5 - 22
- Pupa - Day 23 - 37
- Adult Fly - 38 - 45
Nutritional Value for Reptiles
Black soldier fly larva are voracious composters. They thrive in decaying material, and will consume a significant amount of organic material. Although this is great for gardeners, it's important for reptile owners to know what their black solder fly larva have eaten.
Our black soldier fly larva are fed wholesome grain and almond hulls. This diet gives them a nutritional boost, and ensures that they aren't contaminated with parasites or worms.
|Moisture (%)||Protein (%)||Fat (%)||Fiber (%)||Calcium (mg/kg)||Phosphorus (%)|
Choosing the Right Black Soldier Fly Larva Age & Sizes
As a black soldier fly larva ages, they will grow, and also become darker in appearance. The darker their complexion, the further they are in the larval lifecycle, and the sooner they will transform into the 3rd pupa phase of their life cycle.
Reptiles will prefer the larval stage over the pupa stage. The larval stage has a softer body, and will be much easier for a bearded dragon or leopard gecko to digest. Once the pupa stage begins, they search for dryer habitat, which increases the chitin in their skin, making them much more difficult to digest (and even leading to possible impaction).
Just like with superworms and crickets, you'll want to choose the BSFL that is equal to the distance between your pets' eyes:
Here is a basic guide to the size and age of Black Soldier Fly Larva:
- 1/2" BSFL - 7-8 days
- 3/4" BSFL - 10-12 days
Their size is approximated. Their diet and temperature will determine how quickly they grow. But based on the diet and habitat we provide, this is their average size.
How To Store Black Soldier Fly Larva As Pet Food
Unboxing your Black Soldier Fly Larva
Your Black Soldier Fly Larva will be packaged in cups with specialty blended bedding material made from almond hulls and wholesome grain. This bedding material can feed the BSFL for about 6 days. After 6 days, you'll want to introduce other organic material. Keep in mind, although BSFL will eat nearly any decaying organic waste, you'll want to give them a healthy diet. Because that is what your pet is eating. So you'll want to feed them the same way you would feed your pet:
Delay Pupa Transformation
Because the pupa stage contains chitin and a harder skin, you'll want to keep them in their larval stage as long as possible. Since food and temperature are the driving forces that mature them, you can use this to retard and slow the metamorphasis:
If you introduce the BSFL to temps of about 60 degrees F, you can increase their larval stage by about 2-3 weeks. They will continue to live at these temps, and will maintain their nutritional value. This is a great option for reptile owners.
If you're using them to compost decaying organic waste, this will not be a viable strategy. Although the larval stage is the composting champion, reducing also decreases their appetite. So if composting, you'll be better off keeping them in the mid 80's so they maintain their voracious appetite.
Black soldier fly larva needs moisture during their gestation stage. By eliminating the moisture in their bedding material, they will go into dormancy. This will not kill the BSFL. And when introduced to moistened food, they will begin where they left off.
Dehydration can also decrease their size. If your BSFL are too large for your beloved bearded dragon or leopard gecko, you can eliminate the moisture, which will cause them to shrink (but not kill them). Don't expect a huge size reduction. But they can shrink about 1/16".
Obviously, this isn't a viable option if trying to compost.
Freezing is a viable option as well. They will maintain their nutritional value. However, temps below 32 degrees F will kill them. And they will not resurrect once thawed. So if your pet desires live, moving food, then this may not be a good option. But if they aren't so fussy, this could be a good method to maintain your black soldier fly larva.
How to Keep Them in The Larva Stage
Keeping black soldier fly larva as pet food is a fine balance. By the time you receive your black soldier fly larva in the mail, they could be as old as 2 weeks (depending on which size you order. Since they remain in the larva stage for about 3 weeks, and the pre-pupa stage for another week, you have almost a full month before they transform into the fly. So it's not critical that you slow down their lifecycle right away after receiving them.
The best temp range for them to grow is between 77 F - 86 F. At these temps they will consume copious amounts of food, and produce copious amounts of frass.
If trying to slow down their growth, 60 F is an ideal temp that will cause them to go dormant. The maximum length of the black soldier fly larva is 1". As they start to reach this size, you'll want to decrease their ambient temperature to maintain their larval stage.
Another sign that they're approaching the pupal stage is when their skin gets darker. A dark complexion is a sign that they're getting closer to pupate. Again, if this occurs, you can either reduce their temperature, or dehydrate them to stall their development.
Black soldier fly larva aren't picky when it comes to bedding. The bedding material we ship them in will support their eating needs for up to 6 days. After that point, you'll need to transplant them into fresh bedding material. The simplest bedding material is oatmeal and water. Mix 4 parts oatmeal with 1 part water. This will provide enough hydration and food to sustain the BSFL.
How to Compost with Black Soldier Fly Larva
Black soldier fly larvae are the composting champions. They'll eat any decaying material, include meat and citrus, making them more voracious than red worms. And they'll consume about twice their body weight - per day! If you weighed 150 pounds, then you'd have to consume 300 pounds of food to match the consumption power of a black soldier fly larva.
Setting Up a BSFL Compost Bin
There are a variety of ways to create a black soldier fly larvae composting bin. The reason is that they are not picky eaters, and they're fairly hearty, meaning they can handle numerous environments. But there are specific set up requirements that you'll absolutely need to ensure your BSFL thrive.
Temps between 85 F and 95 F hit the Black Soldier Fly Larvae's sweet spot. At these temps, they'll munch and munch and squirm and poop all day every day. But since it's unlikely you'll be monitoring their bin that closely, anywhere in the upper 80's will keep them active. They can still be active in lower temps. However, they will begin to slow down as the temp decreases. And once the temps get below 50 F, they'll effectively become dormant.
Their survival range is between 113 F to 32 F. Although this temp range is wide, they are not effective in the extremes of this range.
If you're trying to keep them active when the temps are low, then a good strategy is trying to insulate their compost bin. Dirt, actual insulation, towels, and many other dense objects can act as a great insulator. Even the frass they create will help insulate the inside of their bin. During times like this is when it might be a good idea to get an actual reading on their compost temperatures.
Black soldier fly larvae need humidity in their bins to remain active. 70% is the ideal humidity target. To put this into perspective, an oatmeal mixture of 1 part water to 4 parts water would be about 70% humidity.
If you decrease the moisture in the bin, they will blow down, and go into stasis. this is a great way to pro-long the larval stage of their life cycle. However, if you're trying to compost, this is not ideal. So be sure to keep that humidity level at about 70%. A hygrometer may be a great tool for anyone considering a black soldier fly compost bin.
Black soldier fly larvae are hungry hungry animals. They will consume twice their body weight per day! Unlike red worms, they will eat animal fats, meat, and citrus. Additionally, they will eat practically anything else, including pizza:
When preparing their bin, it's ok to put in nearly any type of leftover food source. They are voracious, and will consume it quickly. So be sure to provide their compost bins with plenty of compostable food waste.
The Escape Tube
BSFL like humid environments. However, as they mutate into their pupa stage, they like dry locations. So whatever your bin is, they will need sometype of tube or escape hatch. This will allow them to crawl up from the bin, into dryer areas. Many bins have a bucket at this end of the tube, to catch the squirmy larva. They are then fed to many chickens, fish, or bearded dragons.
Winter Shipping Policy
- We will not ship when Destination Temps are below 25 Degrees F
- Live Delivery is Not Guaranteed when Destination Temps are below 45 Degrees F
If you are ordering crickets, superworms, or any other live product during the winter, you need to be realistic: we’re trying to ship a live product through sub 30 degree temperatures affordably.
We take extra measures during the winter to try and increase their chances of survival. However, history has proven that customers are 4x more likely to receive perished crickets when shipped in the winter. This is fact.
Shipping in the winter has always been our biggest challenge. And every other crickets vendor has the same problem. No one wants to send you dead crickets. We want to provide you with excellent service, because we know you care about your pet. But the reality is we can’t control the weather. And there’s only so much packaging we can do before we have to increase our costs.
We still have success shipping in the winter.
If you decide to order for a winter delivery, here's what you can do on your end to ensure you receive happy, healthy live products:
- You MUST be home to accept the delivery. The live product cannot be left outside in the freezing temperatures, or it's certain they won't survive.
- If we ship with the Post Office, we highly highly highly recommend that you communicate with your post office. And that you ask them to hold the package for pick up.
- If there is a problem, we must be notified within 24 hours of receiving the live product.
Dead crickets or superworms don't do you (the customer), or us (the cricket grower) any good. So let's work together to ensure your live product survives the transit.
We can only ship Live Products on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays
We want to get your products delivered quickly just as badly as you do. But the reality is that shipping live products isn't the easiest task. And that means we have to be disciplined and strategic when we ship. Otherwise, there's an increased probability that perished crickets will show up on your doorstep. And that doesn't do any good for the customer or shipper.
We Ship with The Post Office and with FedEx
We ship with the post office for a few reasons.
- They keep their packages inside their climate controlled buildings. This is a game changer. Instead of leaving the packages out on a dock, they are brought inside the building. Which can drastically increase the survival rate for the crickets and superworms.
- They Deliver on Saturdays. Since they deliver on Saturdays, we're able to ship on Wednesdays. Most packages are delivered within 2-3 business days. So if we ship on Wednesday, that 2-3 day window falls in the same week, which avoids any Sunday transit delays.
- Cost Effective. And one reason why we're able to keep our prices so low is because we use the post office. USPS Priority mail is a great, and reasonable priced service. And any savings we gain, we pass right back to the customer.
The post office is our preferred shipper. But depending on your proximity & time of year, we may upgrade your shipping service to FedEx for these reasons:
- The Post Office is unreliably slow during holidays. The drawback with the post office they don't guarantee delivery dates. They will advertise 2-3 days for their Priority Mail shipments. However, the don't guarantee you package will arrive in 2-3 days. And this becomes painfully obvious during the holidays, specifically between Black Friday and New Years. Which puts us in a tough spot because our preferred shipper with climate controlled facilities is no longer dependable. So we'll ship with FedEx for this reason.
- Faster Shipping/Shorter Transits. Faster shipping and shorter transits have obvious benefits. The live product will get delivered faster, and in a preferred habitat. And FedEx does guarantee their delivery dates, which is beneficial for the customer.
Temperatures are a big consideration when packaging and shipping live products. And at any time, we may decide to postpone deliveries if we feel the live product will not survive the transit. If that is the case, we will make our best effort to contact the customer so that can make other arrangements if desired.
But if the temperatures are too cold, we can package the crickets with heat packs. And if they are too hot, we can package them with cold gel packs.
But either way, we need to keep a close eye on the weather when we get into the extremes. So please keep that in mind when expecting deliveries.