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Body size is a recognised factor impacting mating success of a number of insect species. The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (L.) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), which is mass produced to convert organic waste to protein, exhibits a lekking behaviour necessary for mating. However, it is not known if adult body size impacts mating success and subsequent fertile egg production. In this study, larvae were raised at two densities to produce two size classes of adults (i.e. large and small). Hourly mating observations were recorded in the following studies: (1) homogenous populations of large or small adults; (2) 50% heterogenous populations (equal number of large males with small females and vice versa); and (3) 25% heterogenous (i.e. equal number of large and small adults for both sexes). Adult weight, morphometrics of resulting adults, total number of mating pairs and failed mating attempts, multiple matings, as well as eggs produced and associated hatch rate were recorded for each experiment. Morphometrics and weights in large adults were 21 and 50% greater than small adult males and females by size and weight, respectively. The first experiment of homogenous populations (i.e. large or small) showed no significant differences across other variables measured. However, when populations of different sized adults were mixed equally based on sex (i.e. 50% heterogenous populations), mating success increased 50 to 100% for small males with large females and large males with small females, respectively. Total number of multiple matings increased two to three times. Egg production decreased 15-20% and hatch rate declined approximately 10%. In the 25% heterogenous populations, data were more complex. Number of successful mating pairs across male size was 280% greater than in the homogenous populations. Number of failed mating attempts was also two to three times greater. Multiple matings overall were low (10%) for the homogenous and heterogenous populations. Large males demonstrated two times more aggression in general than small males in the heterogenous than the homogenous populations. Approximately 48 to 343% more eggs were produced in the 25% heterogenous population than large or small homogenous populations, respectively, while hatch rate did not differ among heterogenous and homogenous populations, with an average of 70%. However, the variability in egg hatch was forty times greater than the large homogenous and 40% greater than the small homogenous. While increased egg production is desired, high variability in egg hatch impedes fertile egg production and predictability at an industrial scale.

Open Access
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

An historical overview of the black soldier fly is given and how the appreciation of the insect developed from being harmful to beneficial. The change occurred in 1980, initially for their role in forensic entomology and later when it was realised that the insects can be used both for recycling organic waste streams and for providing nutritious feed for production animals. Now the number of publications on the black soldier fly is increasing exponentially, while more companies focus on its commercial use.

Open Access
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

Abstract

While biotic conditions are recognised contributors to the growth and production of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (L.) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), abiotic conditions are arguably of equal or greater relevance. Shifts in key environmental conditions can be the difference between optimal production of a black soldier colony, or its collapse. As with all insects, the impact of these criteria is highly dependent on development stage of the insect and scale of application (e.g. growth chamber in a laboratory versus an industrial rearing room). Through the analysis presented herein, the impact of three abiotic factors (temperature, humidity, and photophase) on immature black soldier flies will be discussed as a means to serve as a model for investigating other abiotic factors contributing to the physiology of the species. By identifying the impact of these factors on black soldier fly development, the industry can optimise production, minimise financial investment, and enhance the economic and environmental returns of the system.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

House flies are typically revered as pests because they are a nuisance and carriers of pathogens; however, they are capable of converting animal wastes into valuable biomass that may be suitable for inclusion in animal diets, which has been explored for industrialisation outside of the United States. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the life-history (life cycle) performance, dry matter reduction, and bioconversion of three different manure types fed to house fly larvae. Treatments consisted of 100 1-day-old larvae fed either 9 or 18 g of swine, dairy, or poultry manure every other day until 40% pupation. The control diet (50% wheat bran, 30% alfalfa meal, 20% cornmeal) produced superior results across all parameters examined. When comparing across feed rate for a manure type, larvae weighed more (4-16%) when provided the higher feed rate. A similar trend occurred for pupal (16-25%) and adult (8-25%) weight, as well as adult longevity (7-28%). In regards to those fed manure, significant differences (P<0.05) were detected for time to pupation, percentage pupation, adult weight and adult longevity, dry matter reduction, and bioconversion, across feed rates and manure types. Specifically, among those provided manure, larvae fed poultry manure delivered comparable results to those provided Gainesville diet except for time to pupariation, pupal weight, and percentage pupariation. Data from this study are necessary to advance industrial systems for managing animal wastes with house flies.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
Authors: , , and

Edible insects are natural resources that provide foodstuff to numerous ethnic groups in rural India. In spite of the dietary and ecological repayment, the consumption of insects is still restricted to a limited number of countries globally. Apart from the establishment of consumer acceptance, research is necessary to develop sophisticated and automatise cost-effective production of insect products. Insects have massive prospects as feed. As the protein feed ingredients are becoming expensive, several studies are in progress to establish insects as feed in the Indian market. Insect food and feed industry could be a proficient approach to consign the cost of living for the price-sensitive customers. Cross-linking between the industries and the farmers would be helpful for boosting the production rate of insect products. Extensive and systematic study of the edible insects would be desirable to ascertain food security and elude possible risks.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

The black soldier fly has shown great promise in addressing two environmental concerns: (1) waste management; and (2) protein supplementation for use as feed for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture. Thus, tremendous efforts have been placed on mass-production of the black soldier fly. Currently, little is known about the thermal tolerance limits of black soldier fly eggs and immatures. The objective of this study was to determine the lower temperature threshold for black soldier fly development. Development time, egg eclosion and adult emergence success were measured at 12, 16 and 19 °C. We determined that the lower threshold for egg hatch was between 12 and 16 °C, taking 15 days to hatch. Furthermore, we determined that the lower temperature threshold for larvae is between 16 and 19 °C with egg hatch in 7.75 days at 19 °C. Mean development time from egg to adult at 19 °C was 72 days.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

Larvae of the black soldier fly Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) (BSFL) are increasingly used in a circular economy context for industrial production of protein, oil, and frass, while serving as a sustainable method for managing numerous types of organic waste. On both fronts, there are ongoing efforts to optimise feedstocks for increased larval performance, yields of protein and/or oil, and efficiency of volumetric reduction of waste. Fermentation of organic waste prior to providing it to BSFL can help accomplish both goals. A few studies have individually evaluated fermenting agents such as lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, and fungi, showing that they can improve BSFL digestion of biowaste. However, the potential of co-fermentation by multiple microbes to improve waste digestion by BSFL has not been well explored. Here we tested a type of anaerobic fermentation, known as bokashi, that simultaneously uses lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, and fungi, on a common nutritious industrial feedstock (brewery’s spent grains) and on a nutritionally poor agricultural waste (unharvested oranges) on resulting life-history traits of BSFL. We show that bokashi-fermented substrates increased BSFL biomass and growth rate on both feeding substrates and dramatically reduced BSFL development duration on the nutritionally challenging oranges. Besides this, BSFL reared on fermented industrial feedstock reached the peak weight a day earlier, on average, than those feeding on the same unfermented substrate. Collectively, these effects would be beneficial for industrial BSF farming. We also highlight research areas to be tackled before bokashi fermentation can become widely adopted by the BSF farming sector.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

The black soldier fly is the ‘crown jewel’ of the insects as feed industry. Over the past two decades, a tremendous amount of research has been published on larval development, uses of the process, and the biomass generated. However, outside of knowing that adults lek in the wild, and that they rely on components of sunlight to mate, little is known about the adult biology. Given that industrial producers are reliant on the adult to produce offspring, digests organic substrates to produce insect biomass for use as feed, this lack of information on adult behaviour and biology has potentially limited the ability of the industry to optimally mass produce this insect. The motive of this review is to provide a foundation that can serve as a launching pad for future research on the black soldier fly, which could lead to organised results that are comparable across studies and can be used to optimise breeding-systems globally.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

An unavoidable by-product of any animal production system, be it vertebrate- or invertebrate-based, is the manure generated by the animals themselves. In this review, we focus on the role that insects, particularly the black soldier fly Hermetia illucens (L.) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), could play in managing the mass amount of manure produced through animal agriculture, and the subsequent commodities that could be generated by such a system. Although the focus of this review is on the black soldier fly, we postulate that other species, including the lesser mealworm Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) and the house fly Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae) are also well poised to help with the challenge of managing animal manure, while generating products of value.

Open Access
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed