Insects In My Compost

Compost

Soldier Fly Larvae In Compost

My family has composted for many years. In below freezing temperatures, compost accumulates in the bin as the rate of degradation declines. After the temperature increases in Spring, the processing rate increases fast enough to eliminate the backlog. For household compost, the need to actively manage may be minimal.

Every spring my compost is colonized by an assortment of insects, mostly flies, beetles and isopods. I have a healthy colony of black soldier flies that is inactive during winter but becomes active in spring. They colonized without input from us.

Black soldier flies are not nuisances, the larvae are large and they process a lot of plant material. The photo at left is the compost last September, teeming with soldier fly larvae. When temperatures are below freezing nothing stirs. Other than putting in plant material and removing compost, my system is self regulating and not an incubator for pests.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Insects In My Compost

  1. Pingback: Insects In My Compost

  2. Don Weber says:

    Jon, nice post! I have had a somewhat similar experience composting here in northern Virginia. However, my heap alternates between black soldier flies, like yours in the warm weather, and earthworms during the cool. Right now with our warm winter the earthworms are still very active and abundant and processing our kitchen waste along with the neighbor’s beer mash.

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