The thought of flies buzzing around our rubbish can annoy us to no end. Similarly the sight of insect larvae can make most people feel uncomfortable, let alone letting them feed on our waste. However, there’s an insect making waves as the super organic waste disposal in the west, a type of fly. No, not your average housefly but a species called the Black Soldier Fly (BSF).
A Soldier Against Waste
Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens is a fly native to the tropical regions of the world. Whilst they may irk some people but make no mistake, they are revolutionising the way we dispose organic waste. The prevailing method for waste disposal is by incineration (combustion of organic substances) which causes air pollution from its fumes. Instead, these flies leave virtually no negative impact to our environment. Just one kilogram of eggs can clear up to 10 tonnes of organic waste. This includes, decomposing matter, foods that are unfit for human/animal consumption and excrement. Yes, you read it right, excrement. These little hungry hippos will gobble up any soft matter (excluding bones, hair and the like) to be digested into protein and frass (insect poop).
The mechanism in their digestive system is so amazing that they leave behind ZERO E. coli or salmonella after consumption. This makes them one of the cleanest larvae around considering that they eat poop. For instance, in parts of Europe, Africa and China, farm animal waste are being cleared up by BSF larvae.
Food For Livestock
What happens to the larvae after consuming all that waste? Well, they are fed back to animals as a source of protein. By having a gut clear of harmful bacteria, these larvae are an endless supply of protein-rich meal for poultry, pigs and fishes. Thereby, lowering the cost for waste management and animal feed while also increasing output.
An average BSF larva consists of up to 50% protein. By comparison, the average pig feed contains about 38% protein while chicken feed lingers around 18%. This means that livestock farmers can increase the protein intake for farm animals. This allows faster growth simply by keeping the BSF alive and breeding in their farm. Having such an impressive cleaning system, the protein from BSF larvae is also safe for human consumption. In fact, myBurgerLab introduced a BSF larvae patty back in 2019.
From Waste To Waste: Organic Fertilisers
Remember when I said they leave virtually no trace? Well, I wasn`t kidding. Insect excrement, also known as frass are being used as fertilisers, and a clean one at that. It is used as is, or added with chitin for that extra calcium to boost plant growth. Additionally, for those looking to grow their own food and are concerned about harmful chemicals in their fertilisers take note that chitin is not a chemical additive but rather a natural part of insects and shellfish which carries many benefits.
Where does the chitin come from? The adults. After they mate and lay their eggs, the adults have completed their life duties and dies. Chitin comes from the exoskeleton and pupae of insects. With the inclusion of calcium, BSF frass incorporates all the necessary nutrients to help plants grow. That being said, this makes frass one of the best choice for organic fertilisers available out there.
Harmful Or Harmless To The Environment?
What about the environmental impact of introducing this insect into our ecosystem? They are native to most tropical regions thus are not an invasive or destructive species. In addition, they don’t sting or bite as they possess no stinger or any mouth parts. In other words, at the larvae stage, they consume all the nutrients they need to grow, shed and mate before starting the next generation to repeat the cycle.
The size of an egg is approximately one millimetre, hatches and grows up to 2.7 centimetre. This means after hatching, they engorge themselves nearly 30 times their hatchling size. Just one clutch of eggs can clear an enormous amount of waste. Additionally, they leave nothing behind but instead provide alternative food sources for consumption.
Zero Wastage For The Future
Imagine the possibilities available to make our world cleaner and greener with this one insect. It isn’t just limited to frass, waste management and alternative food source, chitin will be another wonderful resource we’ll be exploring in the next article. Stay tuned! If you’d like to enquire about organic frass or BSF eggs you can contact hijauOrganik for more information.