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Maggots in the compost bin

Black soldier fly larvae in a compost bin

Dear Walden Garden gods,

My compost bin has been overrun with maggots and fat lizards🤢

I am sure that this is linked to my gluttonous watermelon consumption this summer. I am so ashamed!

Should I promise to eat no more watermelon, bag up the vermin, and start anew?

— Your anonymous petty gardener

 

Dear Lucky Gardener,

You should feel proud! Your compost bin has attracted beneficial black soldier flies (the larval form of which looks like the maggots of house flies but the adults of which won’t bother your food or your garden). In fact, black soldier flies are so sought-after that lots of folks pay big bucks for specialized bins and even order black soldier fly eggs to get a colony started.

Maggots in a compost binMy favorite thing about black soldier flies is the way they turn kitchen scraps into worm-casting-quality black gold at lightning speed. Mark loves the way his pets greet him with their roiling excitement whenever he makes a compost deposit. Chicken keepers love black soldier flies for the high quality protein they offer as a feed addition. And your skinks are clearly in the chickens’ camp!

If you really, really want the black soldier flies not to come back next year, you can add more carbon to your bin in the form of sawdust, autumn leaves, or shredded paper. Keeping scraps covered with less-yummy alternatives at all times will indeed prevent black soldier flies from colonizing in the future.

Alternatively, if you’re sold and want to double down on your black soldier fly production, Mark’s current favorite colony home is a modified wheelie bin. We love BSFs so much that we have three bins and are thinking about renaming Mark’s pets BFFs!

P.S. I’m really not a garden god, but that’s so nice of you to say…

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