A few days ago, I took some food scraps out to our happily rodent-free compost bin in the back yard. It was a quiet morning, and I heard a soft noise coming, I thought, from the neighbor's yard. Then I realized that noise was emanating from the compost bin. And the compost was bobbing up and down. So I carefully peered in, afraid of what I might find…
And yep, there they were.
I refuse to use the word "maggots" because these were much less disgusting to me; instead of initiating the gag reflex, I simply shouted, "Eww!" See the difference?
They aren't white, but instead are black and brown (from what I could tell, I didn't want to stare at 'em too long!), and look like they have more segmented bodies. Still, their writhing inch-long bodies are pretty gross.
Friends of mine who have a closed compost bin have had the same issue (ours is an open-air bin). We've both been adding greens and browns in with our food scraps (veggies only, no meat products), so we're wondering what gives.
I've done some research but have come up with conflicting information. Most of what I've read seems to indicate that these wriggling inchworms are larvae of the Black Soldier Fly, which is different from the common housefly. From what I've read, Black Soldier Flies specifically are really good at decomposing food scraps and will even take care of pet waste. Some gardening sites say it's not a problem to have them in your pile, in fact it's beneficial; and others say no grub is a good grub, add more browns and move on with your life.
Here's the thing, though: sure, they're keeping our compost pile at a low—very low—level. But in the coming months, we want to use compost on our garden. Will it be usable compost? And will we have enough of it?
In other news, the compost bin is not attracting any neighborhood wildlife, does not smell bad, and is not surrounded by flies. So we're down to just the grub problem. Any tips, tricks, or advice from you fellow composters out there?
And who knew there was so much to learn about fly larvae?
• Good Question: Maggots in My Compost... Help!
• Good Questions: More on Maggots and Compost
• How to Build a Shipping Pallet Compost Bin
• How to Build a 2-Material Quck & Cheap Compost Bin
• Microbes: Making Better Compost
(Image: Flickr member Joi, licensed under Creative Commons)