Q&A: What is the ideal food to feed Black Soldier Fly larvae?

Black Soldier Fly larvae are known for their ability to process a wide variety of organic waste streams. For example, they can feed on food scraps, compost feed and animal manure. However, not all types of waste are sustainable food sources. Feeding the larvae a balanced diet can maximize protein content and promote larval growth.

Optimal nutritional content

For the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly to grow optimally and as quickly as possible, their diet must contain food sources rich in protein and carbohydrates. In addition, the ideal food is quite wet, with a water content of 60-90%. This type of food is the easiest for the larvae to eat and digest. Although the larvae are the easiest digesters of all known insect larvae, they eat and digest soft foods significantly faster than harder foods. However, it is important not to let the food and substrate be too moist, as this limits the larvae’s ability to breathe, which they do through their pores.

The larvae can also be fed an exclusively plant-based diet, although this may slow down their development and growth. If the larvae are raised to reproduce, it is advisable to add a protein source. For adult flies, food is not necessary, as during their 5–8-day life they live primarily on the fat they have stored as larvae. They do not eat food anymore.

Legislative aspects

Finally, it is important to comply with current legislation when feeding Black Soldier Fly larvae. According to EU regulations, insects can only be fed with pre-consumer waste. This means that only waste collected immediately after production may be used before it reaches the final consumer. In addition, larvae may not be fed products containing meat or fish. Thus, post-consumer waste or animal manure may not be fed to the larvae. In North America, South America, Africa and Asia, legislation is less strict. In many cases, manure and post-consumer waste are allowed to be used there.


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