chubwolf
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Maggots in the compost bin

I have done a forum search and the closest i found was the grub thread. but if anyone knows if this question has been asked 10000 times please point me to the other thread.

I have a lot of maggots (or maybe fat worms) in my compost bin, so much so that it looks like the whole top layer is moving. i can see the little buggers eating the material.

My question is are they bad? I used to have some rats in there, but I put hardware fabric across the vents and openings so I don't think rodents are getting in.

I'll take a picture if anyone things it will help.

Thanks in advance.

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RamonaGS
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

Are you putting meat, fish, or grease in your compost? I was told that was how you end up with maggots and vermin in your compost, and that they are in fact undesirable. I remember my friend saying you want worms, but not maggots. Can't remember why they are unwanted, besides they are total yuckers anyway, lol! I'm not sure how to get rid of them though, I just avoid putting meat and fish in my bin.
~~Ramona mother of fur babies~~

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

Having a whole bunch of maggots sounds like you are keeping the compost a bit too wet. If you let it dry out, they probably won't like it as much. Turn your compost or stir it up and keep it a bit drier. If it is too wet just from lots of rain, you might need to put a cover over the top until the weather dries up some.

But having some maggots in the compost is not a bad thing. Unlike the grubs we were talking about, maggots are detritivores, part of the process of breaking all the stuff you put in there down into humus.
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wesleyc
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

It seems like the other posters hit the main points, but I have one more question. Is your compost pile kind of small? It might not be heating up - which means it isn't actively composting. I would recommend stirring it a bit and feel if it is warm in the middle. Compost piles shouldn't attract vermin and should be too hot to allow for most insects. Is there maybe a lot of fruit that you have thrown away? I hear that the juices of those rotting will bring a lot of vermin as well. Like others have said, add dry brown things (Dead leaves, shredded paper, hay) and keep stirring it. Also, make sure it is getting air and staying moist, not wet (squeeze a hand-full of it, your hand should bead with moisture, not drip)

toxcrusadr
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

If they are fat segmented grublike things rather than small fly larvae, you may have soldier fly larvae. They are not harmful and will not turn into a cloud of house flies (they fly away and you won't see them). But generally they indicate your pile is too rich in N and/or too wet. You can add browns which will soak up both. They can show up regardless of what kind of food waste you have.

BSF larvae are very efficient organic waste eaters, and there is actually research going on to see if they can be used to turn food waste into protein which can be used as cattle feed or fish farm feed.
Tox

chubwolf
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

Wow,
Thanks for the replies,

I am using a compost bin bought from big lots, basically a 4 x 4 x4 plastic cube witha flip up lid.

No meat, no fish and I wash out my eggshells. But the vast majority of the content is fruit pulp from my juicer and coffee grounds. I don't have a lawn, and I really only have pine needles as far as leaves go. it is definately pretty wet, I might try asking the neighbours If i can rake up thier leaves. A few nonths ago I did rip up a load of old papers and added them, (old electric bills etc).

I'll take a picture later and post it. (that's something for everyone to look forward to. :D )

chubwolf
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

as promised here are a couple of pics of the grubby little things.
Attachments
maggot on beet leaf.jpg
maggots.jpg

wesleyc
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

I was certainly looking forward to that, hahaha!

I'm no expert, but those do look similar to black soldier fly larvae (at least from what google is showing me

estorms
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

I like to compost everything I can, but I draw the line at maggots or rats. You need to keep your kitchen scrap bucket covered. The eggs could have been laid before you took out the scraps. It only takes one fly. I use a Country Crock margarine container. It;s easy to wash and the top stays on.

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applestar
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

You probably want to try reading this thread
:arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=49833
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

chubwolf
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

Applestar, thank you. I read that other thread, then looked as black soldier fly pictures and guess what? I have those. I was wondering what they could be. Thank you.

chubwolf
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

I have certainly seen some black soldier flys in my compost bin, (I'm relieved, I was worried they were some crazy cockroach species). so , can anyone give a definitive answer? are they a good thing to have? most of what I read seemed to suggest they are beneficial. am i missing anything?

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RamonaGS
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

If you picked up on the fact that they are totally ucky and gross then I think you got all the points on those little wigglers. :P
~~Ramona mother of fur babies~~

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applestar
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

My take on them is that they are beneficial if you are using your compost piles as home waste management center -- seriously reducing your carbon footprint -- because they can handle the things that are normally considered uncompostable.

HOWEVER, they eat most everything up so you will get much less (I think maybe only 25%?) of COMPOST as final product, so if you want to MAKE compost, they are not very useful.

On the ther hand, people like Eric/DoubleDog Farm who could use the BSF pupae as final product for feeding poultry or fish as protein source would find them to be excellent self sufficient waste-to-feed converters, especially since they can then harvest eggs, chicks, or meat of the livestock for later human consumption or sale.

If you keep pets that would eat the larvae/pupae and normally BUY food for them, it might be something to consider too. Another way to use BSF is to maintain a separate pile/bin for pet wastes to be consumed by the BSF. (I suppose you wouldn't use larvae/pupae as feed in this case -- maybe just let them repeat their life cycle in the bin through the season....)

I haven't found any in my compost yet so I haven't been inclined to experiment, though. In my area, I believe they won't be able to overwinter in the outside bin either. Hopefully more people who have tried raising BSF will comment.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

Yup, they are BSF larvae -- I have had them in my worm bin. The flies they turn in to are long and skinny and very black and IMO pretty creepy looking, but given that the compost pile is outside, the flies will just fly off and disappear. The adult BSFs do not eat (anything) and only live about a week. Even though I always have some of those larvae (not lots) in my outdoor compost pile, I have never seen a BSF fly outdoors. I just killed two in my kitchen yesterday (ugh!) that I'm pretty sure were escapees from the worm bin, which has more of them and was indoors all winter.

They are a subtropical species that needs heat and moisture, so all the things we said above about keeping your pile drier with more browns and more aerating, to help reduce their population do apply. They are not a bad thing in your compost pile, since they will break down compostables quickly, but having so many of them would mean you would get a very reduced volume of compost.
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toxcrusadr
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

I would recommend adding a layer of browns on top of every addition of food waste. This will keep your pile more balanced in terms of C:N ratio and moisture, and will help keep the insect population down by covering the juicy stuff. Check the Browns and Greens list thread at the top of the forum if you need ideas. I use sawdust and wood shavings from my shop, you can also use wood chips from the utility tree trimmers, pine shavings sold in bales for horse bedding, shredded office paper, cardboard, etc. etc.
Tox

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ElizabethB
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

Sounds like you need some browns. Black and white newspaper and paper towel/toilet paper rolls shredded and applied in a thin layer is one option. I have an office shredder and use that. One time I put down too thick of a layer and ended up with a soggy mess so I only use paper in moderation and in thin layers. Try searching for horse and live stock breeders in your area. Even if you do not have a trailer you can use 5 gallon buckets to pick up manure. You want dry, cured manure. Also search for rabbit breeders. Rabbit manure is a cool manure and can be used fresh. If there is a race track in your area that is a great source for manure. Most of the time breeders and ranchers will be happy to let you collect manure. Bring your buckets and a shovel. Getting leaves from your neighbor is a good idea but unless the leaves are shredded/mulched they take a lot longer to decompose. We have a live oak that sheds in March. G puts the bagger on the mower, mulches and collects the leaves. I keep them in bags for all year browns. We do have a yard so in addition to kitchen scraps when I need greens I have G bag the lawn clippings to add to my compost bins. Also check for air circulation. A lot of store bought bins don't provide enough circulation. You may have to drill holes in the bin. IDK what it is called but you can get a circular bit for a drill that will cut holes. Look for one in the 2" diameter range. Once you add some browns turn your pile to get it all mixed up.

Good luck
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Maggots in the compost bin

I'm a bit puzzled by your post, Elizabeth. I agree sounds like more browns needed, drying out, and aerating. But having said more browns, you went on to talk about manures, which of course (despite the color) are NOT "browns," being moist and Nitrogen rich.
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