Mysterious pile flattening

GarlicFiendJanuary 31, 2013

I built a new wooden bin last weekend, intending to move the contents of a plastic bin there. My old bin had been an outside bin during the summer and fall, mostly getting the greens that I picked like weeds and thinning crops. I stopped feeding it in October and moved it inside. I figured that it had been plenty long enough to harvest and transfer my worms to the new bin.

Like every other time I've harvested, I emptied the contents onto a tarp under a bright light. I mounded three piles and left them over night. The next morning I came down and looked at a completely flat surface. All three of my mounds had been reduced to an even 3-4 inches of worm poo. I struggled to figure out the cause, wondering if one of my children had come into my grow room and played with the "dirt", but I doubted that. The name of my grow room is "the room we may not enter" and they have never gone into my sanctuary before. I shrugged, scooped up the top crust and re-mounded.

When I returned home from work, the same phenomena had occurred. My mounds were reduced to flatness. This time I decided to figure out the cause. After scooping the top, I re-mounded and sat down to watch for a while.

After about a minute, my piles began to move as if tine corpses were digging themselves out of the worm poo. Zombie Worms?

I waited, then got closer to inspect and noticed that my material was filled with tiny maggots, about a tenth of an inch in size; hundreds, thousands of them. I also started noticing the pillbugs, then the light went on inside my head.

Black Soldier Flies. I had seen the adults in my grow room for several months. I experimented with dwarf tomatoes in the fall and started my onions and shallots on Jan 1st, so my grow lamps had been on for months and the room was a constant 75 degrees; the plastic bin had holes for air flow and the flies found a nice home to lay their eggs. The little maggots were so active they literally reduced my piles to a flat surface. I had never seen that before.

On the downside, my worm population was small, only about 1/4 pound. I think the BSF life cycle was consuming too much of the compost and the worms did not compete well. I'm glad I have other bins with healthy squirms.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
equinoxequinox

Points for a way cool post!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gerris2

BSF is a fun insect, shiny black adult fly and industrious larvae.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:47AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Worm Factory outdoors
Would this kill the worms or just decrease their activity...
pasmack
Worried about my worms
I'm in zone 9. Coastal Texas. I have my bin well established...
greenwater87
Coaching Others
Hello, experts! I have offered my sage advice for a...
Merrygardener
RIP, Vermicomposting, once of the Garden Forums.
We were a viable entity. Evicted and thrown to the...
chuckiebtoo
For what its worth
I have two inside bins one homemade and one factory...
hummersteve
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™