winter 2009 to 6_21_09 145
Mary Harrill  Environmental Biologist

How did I get into raising grubs you ask? During a casual conversation, it was suggested that I might consider raising black soldier fly larvae/grubs as a supplemental feed for my chickens. I had never heard of this fly and knew nothing about them. Well the more I learned, the more excited I became!

The black soldier fly larvae appear to help many environmental issues at once. They provide a fast (usually takes them between 24 to 36 hours) efficient method of bio-converting food waste, including meat, offal, and even manures. The more organic wastes we divert from landfills the less methane gas is produced within them– methane is a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. While these little self-harvesting grubs are consuming the food waste, they are converting it into a high protein and fat food, in addition to calcium and other nutrients. The black soldier fly grubs are a nutritional equivalent to fish meal and fish oil and can replace these fish products within feed for pigs and fish, thus helping to reduce fish harvest pressures within our oceans. So right there, these little flies help us to both slow down greenhouse gas production and aid our oceans. Amazing!

Then there are the by-products of their work: a potent compost tea for one’s garden and solids which make a great soil amendment or worm food. So how much can these grubs eat and how many grubs can you harvest from your colony? Well, studies have shown that these larva are able to convert 100 lbs of organic waste into 5 lbs of solids, several quarts of tea and 15 to 20 lbs of grubs. Who knew!

And yet, only small segments of the population seem to be aware of them. Thus in April 2014, I decided to launch WNC G.R.U.B.S. as a vehicle to inform people from all walks of life of this amazing fly. I spent 2014 raising my own colony and learning as much hands on as possible. Along with gleaning information from farmers who have purchased and used the commercial sized ProtaPods from me. I am currently partnering with the NC Arboretum Education Department and am providing a demonstration ProtaPod for use by discovery camp participants, staff, the cafe and others.

In late summer 2015, I was given the opportunity to learn how to successfully raise BSF within an entirely artificial environment. I have learned a great deal about these amazing creatures, including their propensity to be an escape artist in all stages of their life cycle! We are also working on automating the process.

I am ready to start spreading the word. Please join me in this endeavor!

 

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