Black Soldier Flies Like Beer

Or, to be more precise, beer waste. Still, who can blame them? Not surprisingly, the benefits of good nutrition at a larval stage are carried over to adults.

Laursen, S.F., Flint, C.A., Bahrndorff, S., Tomberlin, J.K. and Kristensen, T.N., 2024. Reproductive output and other adult life-history traits of black soldier flies grown on different organic waste and by-products. Waste Management, 181, 136-144.

The interest in mass-rearing black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae for food and feed is rapidly increasing. This is partly sparked by the ability of the larvae to efficiently valorise a wide range of organic waste and by-products. Primarily, research has focused on the larval stage, hence underprioritizing aspects of the adult biology, and knowledge on reproduction-related traits such as egg production is needed. We investigated the impact of different organic waste and by-products as larval diets on various life-history traits of adult black soldier flies in a large-scale experimental setup. We reared larvae on four different diets: spent Brewer’s grain, ground carrots, Gainesville diet, and ground oranges. Traits assessed were development time to pupa and adult life-stages, adult body mass, female lifespan, egg production, and egg hatch. Larval diet significantly impacted development time to pupa and adult, lifespan, body size, and egg production. In general, flies reared on Brewer’s grain developed up to 4.7 d faster, lived up to 2.3 d longer, and produced up to 57% more eggs compared to flies reared on oranges on which they performed worst for these traits. There was no effect of diet type on egg hatch, suggesting that low-nutritious diets, i.e. carrots and oranges, do not reduce the quality but merely the quantity of eggs. Our results demonstrate the importance of larval diet on reproductive output and other adult traits, all important for an efficient valorisation of organic waste and by-products, which is important for a sustainable insect-based food and feed production.