Photos of readers

Yep, another contribution came in but this is the last, so send your photos and captions in. Today’s reader on view is Gregoray from Texas. His caption is indented:

Here is a photo of my Summer. I am an artist/designer/animator in Austin, Texas. I am also a backyard biologist and permaculture enthusiast. For 8 months of the year, we support a native beneficial insect called the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens). Its larvae consume 100% of our kitchen waste and convert it into compost and protein/fat that we feed to our chickens. If you have not heard of this beneficial insect, you will in the coming decade as it is being used to process organic waste and also provide a protein source. Photo is me feeding larvae to our chickens and a closeup.

I have a longer description of the BSF here on my blog.

33 Comments

  1. Posted August 6, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Cool photos! Those larvae aren’t too scary looking. 🙂

  2. rickflick
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Terrific idea.

  3. BobTerrace
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Very nice. Thanks for informing us.

  4. jezgrove
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Cool photos, and very interesting. From the Wikipedia article linked to above: “When you cook them, they smell a bit like cooked potatoes. The consistency is a bit harder on the outside and like soft meat on the inside. The taste is nutty and a bit meaty.” I’m playing the vegetarian get-out-of-jail-free card on that one, I’m afraid!

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Much more efficient (and humane?) protein source than mammals or fowl. No water or feed input other than waste product. Imagine taking livestock waste and agricultural waste (40% of food in the USA) and converting it into a beneficial product. Asia is already investing in this process.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted August 7, 2020 at 2:13 am | Permalink

        Agreed. And furthermore if you still wish to eat beef or chicken – which people do – it is so much better to raise the cattle and poultry using this as a feedstock than to feed soya protein and drive the continuing destruction of vast swathes of rainforest.

        • Greg Geisler
          Posted August 7, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

          Exactly. It has been estimated that only 10 square feet of BSF larvae can produce an amount of protein equivalent to one acre of soybeans.

          • sugould
            Posted August 7, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

            Amazing! When did these flies become “popular” enough to attract a following among the residential composting crowd? Were you an “early adopter” of these hardworking little guys?

            • Greg Geisler
              Posted August 7, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

              We have been keeping them for about 10 years. They were pretty obscure back then but even though they are indigenous to our area and require almost no maintenance most people haven’t caught on. I have reached out to our city (Austin) but never receive any replies. We stumbled onto them by accident in our compost roller and when I did some research I found a local recycling operation that was using them and was selling the BioPod that we currently use.

              I think for most people there is an “ick” factor. But I find them absolutely fascinating.

              • sugould
                Posted August 7, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

                Traditional housefly maggots do bring out the ick factor in me, but these look almost elegant. Thanks so much for the info!

  5. AndyW
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow – I’m so impressed by those flies. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      They truly are amazing. You could not invent a technology that would be able to accomplish what they do. They require no energy or resource input other than waste, and their output is beneficial to animals and the environment.

  6. Posted August 6, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting! Have you actually tried the larvae, Gregory (sp?. The chickens are lovely.

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I have! Pan-fried in some oil and chiles and in a tortilla. They have a nutty flavor. They are being used in protein bars, ice cream, pet food and other. Really a wonder species.

      • Posted August 8, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think I’m adventurous enough to try it. Grasshoppers smell good over a fire – like shrimps!

  7. Posted August 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Cool! It is said that insects are very efficient at converting their food –> more insects.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Excellent way to get rid of waste and convert it to another form of beneficial energy/protein. I feed my turtles soldier fly larvae (not living though). And like your chickens, they love ‘em.

  9. Janet
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Any of us who eat such scary-looking and odd-textured creatures as lobsters and oysters should be able to eat insects. More power to you, Gregory.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Good for you for pursuing what sounds to be environmentally sound practice, Greg.

    And it’s nice to know there’s a WEITer among us for whom “chickens coming home to roost” retains other than metaphorical meaning. 🙂

  11. Posted August 6, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Cool idea. Looks like your chickens eat very well.

  12. Posted August 6, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. I just gained at least five IQ points. It’s a very good day in the neighborhood.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Somebody should forward this post to Trump – he could use an IQ score of 5!

      • Frank Bath
        Posted August 6, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t you know the Donald is the most intelligent person there ever was? He said so, he told Einstein.

        • Posted August 7, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          People tell him this all the time! They are amazed! Amazed!

  13. Posted August 7, 2020 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Are those really chickens? They look rather like guinea fowl, tho maybe the necks are thicker.

    At any rate, a great idea. Hope it works out on a practical scale.

  14. Darren Garrison
    Posted August 7, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Last year an old bowl of cat food was covered with leaves. When I cleaned them away, I found my own colony of black soldier fly larvae. My mouth didn’t water.

    (I don’t know why they are white and the others black, but there is no question what they are.)

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted August 7, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, they do like them some cat or dog food! Yes, in the early larval stage they are white. They start to turn black in the pre-pupal stage.

      • Darren Garrison
        Posted August 7, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        But the cats love to catch and eat the flies, so it all works out in the end.

      • Darren Garrison
        Posted August 7, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        BTW, bald-faced hornets love the adult flies. Copied from my Facebook post a few days ago:

        I have a spot where black soldier flies like to gather, and in the past few days I noticed that the local bald-faced hornets have discovered them. In the early morning just after sunrise the hornets swoop in, grab a fly (which is nearly as big as the hornet) and start dismembering it, snipping off the unwanted parts like wings and legs before chowing down. Some are eaten on the spot, others carried off (presumably to the nest.) I have been trying to get photos of the action with no good results since the hornets tend to eat their flies while flying and even while grounded rarely hold still. But I did get some nice shots of a nearly dead fly that was apparently stung then lost, and a shot of a hornet without a victim, which will give a good idea of what is in the blurry hornet murder shot.

        • Greg Geisler
          Posted August 7, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          Great observation! I had not seen that. Where do you reside? Southern states?

          • Darren Garrison
            Posted August 7, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

            South Carolina.


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