BSFL are considered one of the best feeder insects in the world, but which birds eat black soldier fly larvae? Let’s find out.
The black soldier fly larvae are insects often farmed and processed for animal feed. They are extremely nutritious and high in protein when harvested.
Several domestic and wild birds feed on the black soldier fly larvae.
In this article, we look at which birds specifically can be feed the black soldier fly larvae. Read on to find out!
What Are BSFL?
Black soldier fly larvae belong to the family Stratiomyidae and are often used as feeder insects.
These larvae feed voraciously on dead and decaying organic material. They eat anything from kitchen waste to food scraps to agricultural waste.
Before the pre-pupal stage, the larvae feed heartily on the food, making them extremely protein-rich.
They are harvested and dried to be made into animal feed. They can also be stored at room temperature and used as and when required as feeder insects.
Data says feeding black soldier fly larvae to chickens boosts their productivity, i.e., leads to more eggs, and improves gut health.
What is The Nutritional Content of BSFL?
During their larval stage, BSFL feed excessively on organic matter. They end up storing a lot of these nutrients to be used during adulthood.
At this stage, they are harvested to be converted into animal feeders because of the high protein content for chickens, pigs, fish, and even shrimp.
According to research, BSFL contains 50% crude protein and 35% lipids. Their amino acid profile matches a fish meal’s, rendering them healthy to be fed to pets and other animals.
What Birds Eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae?
Black soldier fly larvae are a very natural food source for several birds.
Black soldier fly larvae are commonly fed to poultry because of their high nutritional content. They are far healthier than mealworms.
Black soldier fly larvae are said to boost productivity and gut health among chickens, leading to better quality and quantity of eggs.
However, this should be served as an additional side treat, over and above their regular feed.
Black soldier fly larvae are also a good option for ducks. They have a higher calcium content and a balanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus, making them an ideal meal for birds.
Black soldier fly larvae improve feather conditions, produce stronger eggshells, and boost bird immunity.
Other Domestic Birds
Other domestic birds, such as parrots, woodpeckers, finches, and chickens, feed on BSFL.
As discussed before, birds need a high-protein diet, and they often like eating worms as part of their meal. So you can give your pet bird a healthy amount of BSFL.
You can feed dried BSFL, rehydrate it, and serve it to your bird. You may also use it in the form of treats for positive behavior.
Black soldier fly larvae are a good feeder for wild birds as well. Since they are a naturally occurring food source, they’re safe and healthy.
If you wish to feed wild birds, black soldier fly larvae are a far better option as compared to human food like bread or biscuits.
How To Feed BSFL To Chickens?
You can feed your chickens BSFL as a treat or a reward for training. You can feed your chickens directly from your hand or from a dish – both methods are fine.
For chickens specifically, do not use BSFL as the main meal. Use it as a treat or a supplement to their main feed.
You can also use BSFL to attract chickens towards trying a new food by sprinkling a few on top of the new food. You can also use it to attract your chickens to a new feeder.
Scattering BSFL on the ground will encourage your chickens to forage, put them in the habit of foraging, and also be a source of amusement.
Some owners also prefer making chicken toys with BSFL. You can pick a suitable design online or make your own using a regular plastic bottle, making holes in it, and filling it up with BSFL.
Your chickens can then play with the toy to feed on the treats, i.e., BSFL!
How To Feed BSFL To Other Domestic Birds?
When feeding BSFL to other domestic birds, ensure that you take their dietary requirements into consideration. Birds need a protein-rich diet, and BSFL can successfully meet this requirement.
However, you might have to use it as a supplement food in combination with types of feed and fruits to ensure you feed your bird a balanced meal.
Depending on the size of your bird, you can decide the amount of BSFL to feed them. And depending on the type of bird you have, you can feed it BSFL as the main meal or sprinkle it on top of its main meal.
Maintain a hygienic feeding environment for your bird and pick up uneaten BSFL to prevent your bird from overeating.
What Lizards Can Eat BSFL?
BSFL makes excellent food for lizards largely because of its high calcium content. Several species of lizards like to feed on BSFL:
- Old World chameleons
- Leopard geckos
- Fence lizards
- Crested geckos
- Basilisk lizards
- Water dragons
- Spiny-tailed lizard
- Bearded dragons
- Small and large monitor lizards
Crested and leopard geckos and bearded dragons, known to be picky eaters, also quite enjoy feeding on the BSFL.
The best way to feed BSFL to pet lizards is by picking larvae whose size is the same as the space between the lizard’s eyes.
You can put them on a dish and leave them inside the terrarium.
Determine the feeding quantity and frequency depending on your lizard’s size and dietary requirements.
What Other Pet Animals Can Eat BSFL?
BSFL can also be fed to regular pet animals like dogs and cats. For poultry, birds, lizards, and spiders too, they make excellent treat foods.
BSFL can also be fed to fish, amphibians, and small mammals like hedgehogs. BSFL are quite nutritious, and feeding them to your pet will positively affect their health.
The only part you should really be careful about is the quantity. Sticking to your pet’s nutritional needs and feeding them accordingly is important for their health.
If you have any doubts about whether or not you should feed BSFL to your pet, we suggest checking with a veterinarian to ensure your pet gets the right food.
Frequently Asked Questions
What eats black soldier fly larvae?
The larvae of black soldier fly can be used as feed for fish, poultry, and pigs, as well as pets like lizards and dogs.
They also have the potential for human consumption.
What kills black soldier fly larvae?
Black soldier flies can become a nuisance, but they are harmless.
Eliminating their breeding source, which is decaying organic matter, is the best way to get rid of them.
If you have compost or moldy food, it’s best to eliminate it.
You can also use a fly swatter or aerosol spray to kill the flies, and pick up and discard the larvae if you spot them in your house.
Do chickens eat black soldier fly larvae?
Black soldier fly larvae are a nutritious food source commonly fed to poultry, as they are healthier than mealworms.
They can improve gut health and productivity in chickens, resulting in better quality and quantity of eggs.
However, they should only be served as an additional side treat, not as a replacement for regular feed.
Are black soldier fly larvae good feeders?
Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) have high nutritional value.
They have 50% crude protein and 35% lipids.
BSFL are commonly fed to poultry and other domestic birds, as well as wild birds, due to their high protein content and balanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus.
These insects can improve gut health, egg quality, and immunity in birds.
They can be served as part of a bird’s regular diet, and can also be used as treats for positive behavior.
Compared to human food, BSFL are a safer and healthier option for feeding wild birds.
Black soldier fly larvae are extremely nutritious grubs full of protein, healthy fat content, and the right calcium and phosphorus levels.
It is due to this reason that they make an excellent source of food for numerous birds – both domestic and wild.
Other animals, such as small mammals, fish, and even lizards, like to feed on BSFL.
Thank you for reading, and we hope you will be able to feed your farmyard birds and animals black soldier fly larvae without any problem.
People know that BSFL are used as feeders, but there are a lot of misconceptions about which animals and birds they can be fed.
Over the years, we have received several queries regarding this. While we have tried to answer most of the questions in the article, there are several that could have been missed.
The below section covers all letters from our readers on this topic, and our answers.
Letter 1 – Window Fly or Black Soldier Fly Larvae
follow-up on bug question
Hi there –
I’m following up on a message (and photos) I sent on 6-22. I know you guys are extremely busy and can’t post online responses to every inquiry; but if you could just send me a quick reply as to what I’m dealing with, I sure would appreciate it. We’re desperate to make sure we’re not dealing with a harmful situation. By way of reminder, I’m attaching one of the photos that I sent before. Thanks. Sincerely,
Owner, TC Concepts
We are very happy you resent your images, though there might have been helpful information in your previous email that we are currently lacking. We are quite certain these are Window Fly Larvae, but you gave no indication where they were found. They are often found in compost piles and we currently have a healthy population in our own compost pile. They are also found in ground mulch. Hogue writes: “It is also found in defunct Honey Bee combs. There is no certainty that putrifying materials are actually the larva’s food. However, there is evidence that other fly larvae that are present in such decaying media, or Honey Bee larvae in hives, may be preyed upon by the Window Fly larvae. In spite of its waspish look and aggressiveness, the fly neither bites nor stings people.” We are guessing you found your specimens in compost or mulch by the look of your photo, so we would conclude that the larvae are harmless, or more accurately, beneficial if they are devouring other fly maggots in the decaying organic material. If, on the other hand, you found them in your bee hives, they could be a cause of concern.
Update: (06/28/2008) follow-up on bug question
Thank you for your response. However, I’m really not convinced these are fly larvae and it may be like you said, that you were missing some valuable information from my original message. Anyway, for starters, we don’t have bee hives, so that’s not an issue. These larvae are in the rabbit manure that is under our rabbit cages in a covered barn. They are there in the thousands. I cannot find anything (online or elsewhere) that looks like these and they don’t look anything like the fly larvae I have seen. The most recent solo picture that I sent does not give any kind of perspective, so I’m here attaching a photo of them on a regular sized paper plate. As you can see, these guys are fairly large, running up to 1-1/2″ or so. Because you said my original message may have had more valuable information, I am here quoting from that message: “It appears to be some kind of beetle larvae . . . We’ve considered (and rejected) mealworms. These guys are just too dark and they don’t have the rounded bodies. They’re bodies are flattish. They DO seem to travel on their backs when on the surface, so I considered the larvae of the Green June Beetle, which we definitely get around here on an annual basis. But they don’t seem to look like any of the pictures I’ve seen of them either. Wrong color; wrong shape. Dung beetle was also looked at (duh) and ruled out for some reason that I can’t remember now. I haven’t ruled out Fiery searchers, but I can’t seem to find a good photo of that larvae that looks enough like these to be convinced. They don’t seem to have any legs to speak of; just feelers that you only see when they’re on their backs. But I may just be missing them. They are too dark for typical white grubs and they don’t curl up like typical white grubs either. They don’t wander on to the floors; they seem to like it right where they are in and among the waste.”
I guess the bottom line is that if these are flies, they’re going to be awfully big flies and we have a real problem, bee hives or no bee hives. Are you sure about the window fly identification? If so, can you point me to information that would help me get rid of them. Thanks. Sincerely,
Hi again Fred,
Thanks for the additional information and the new photo. Hogue describes the larvae of the Window Fly or Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, this way: “The larva is robust, tapered in outline, and somewhat flattened, with a tough brown leathery skin covered with numerous short bristles.” We are sticking to our guns on this one, though we have been proven wrong numerous times in the past. We will solicit Eric Eaton’s opinion on this as well.
Confirmation from Eric Eaton
It appears you are on the mark with the identification of the larvae in the rabbit dung. They are larvae of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens. Now to address Fred’s questions. First, the larvae feed on decaying matter in many different situations, not just bee hives. In fact, that is probably one place they are not found with any regularity. Manure of any kind seems to be the preferred larval food, and they are often employed in composting pig manure. They are even sold as bait and “feeder” animals in pet shops under the names “Phoenix worms” and “soldier worms.” Lastly, the larvae of most insects are substantially larger than the adults. Much fat is burned during the transformation into the pupal stage, and further energy is expended during the reorganization of the cellular structure into the adult insect. So, size alone means virtually nothing. Congratulations, Daniel, on making a pretty tough identification!
Thanks, guys. Yes, once I saw a photo of the larvae, I too was convinced. I think it was the “Window Fly” label that threw me off before. Nothing I found under that label looked anything like these. But the photos I’ve found for Hermetia illucens are indeed exactly identical. Now I have to decide if there’s a benefit that outweighs the potential problem (?) of swarms of black soldier flies. I literally have tens of thousands if not millions of these. Want some? 🙂 Sincerely
, Fred Watt
Letter 2 – Black Soldier Fly
Subject: Mydas fly maybe? Location: Easton ct August 13, 2016 2:50 pm Greetings, These appeared in the house after roof work. Any help appreciated ! Signature: Many thanks, chip Dear Chip, We actually believe that even though your image does not show the clear areas of the abdomen that are responsible for the common name of Window Fly, that this is a Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, because of the white tarsi on the legs, which are evident in this BugGuide image. Black Soldier Fly larvae develop in compost piles, and a nearby compost pile might have some relevance to the sudden appearance of Black Soldier Flies in your home. Black Soldier Flies do not bite and they are considered harmless.