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a home for us, our cat, and 4,753 maggots

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Mar 04, 2012 01:04 AM
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by bubba of the bubbles ( last modified Mar 03, 2012



Off andon I've alluded to our "worms”, a more socially acceptable term for ourcolony of Black Soldier Fly maggots (thank you, Devon). Yes, you read thatright: Maggots. Big juicy Cheeto-sized ones, AKA “my babies”. I don’t know howmany we have (a [potentially] hyperbole-infused guestimate is in the title) butthere’s a large writhing pile of ’em in our composter. And boy do they eat. Alot.

Truthbe told, I’m quite fond of them. So much so, we moved them from the old houseto the lot. The movers, at first intrigued by the novelty of maggot moving,were not impressed (4,753 maggots and their accouterments are heavy and [ahem]a little messy; don’t be surprised if you see a special fee if you want yourmaggots moved in the future).

Ididn’t start out loving maggots. My initial goal was to (organically) kill themall after finding them squatting in our composter for a second time (seeancient post from MySpace [remember the promiscuous days of MySpace?] below).But due to the miracle of Google (I’m convinced Google will become the centerof a future religion), I immediately saw their value and now cherish them (nohyperbole there: I was really worried about them during the move).

BlackSoldier Fly maggots, hipster vegans that they are, love coffee grounds andwatermelon (you have never seen a happier pile of maggots until you’ve seenours doing the “Folgers Boogie”). Among certain circles, I’m even known as the“Maggot Whisperer”, having saved other colonies from impending destruction byrevolted (but uneducated) composters. And I even got my first request for amaggot transplant: Moving some of my babies to a new home!

Wehaven’t talked to the architects about the maggots (yet). We don’t want topress our luck. We’re already fortunate they haven’t hiked because of ourspecial requests for the kittycat (thank Gawd for a down real estate market!).

Iwonder if the vet chips worms?

"mmmmm: Watermelon!!!"

I lovemy maggots

Lateone night, I collected the clippings and whatnot from the to-be-composted bowland carried them deep into the backyard to the compost pile. After I dumpedthem onto the pile, I could hear the pile come alive with writhing andrustling. "Bwahhh!" I hooted as I jumped back. I nudged the composterframe and heard the writhing and rustling again, but it was too dark to seewhat was there. After returning from the house with a flashlight, I nudged thecomposter frame again and was horrified to see a contorting mass of maggots."BWAHHH!!!!" I hoot-yelled this time. As I ran back to the houseBWAHHing the whole way, my father-in-law (father-in-common-law at the time) wasgreatly amused.

"Maggots?"he asked, "All that hooting and hollering for a few maggots?" Hedidn't say the words, but I could read them in his eyes: "Girly.Man."

"Thesemaggots aren't normal maggots," I replied, "Go see themyourself."

Outinto the backyard he marched with the flashlight. I watched him go behind thegarage to where the compost pile was. "BWAHHH!!!!!" he hoot-holleredwhile running quickly back to the house "Those are the biggest andcreepiest maggots I have ever seen!"

Thisall happened 10 or 12 years ago. After the maggots appeared, I lost my appetitefor maintaining a compost pile. A couple years ago I got the urge to compostagain, this time mostly for leaves. As I fed the composter, I watched for themaggots. Fortunately, they didn't come. We then began feeding kitchen scrapsinto the maw of the composter being careful to not put meat into it, convincedrotting meat had attracted the maggots all those years ago. Last month, when Iopened the lid to the composter, the maggots were back. A big, juicy, boiling massof worms, these maggots were each an inch long and as thick as a Cheeto.Interestingly, they loved coffee grounds, squeezing out from the goo below inthe hundreds to have a writhing caffeine-fueled orgy.

Acouple days ago, after witnessing another frenetic maggot dance upon a week'sworth of ground coffee beans, I shook my fist at the sky and yelped"BWAHH!!!! I WILL GOOGLE A SOLUTION TO MY MAGGOT PROBLEM!!!"

Aftergoogling "maggots" and "compost," I learned that theselarge, pasty-skinned wigglers are the larvae of black soldier flies. It turnsout these maggots are not uncommon, love food scraps, and are a welcomeaddition to a compost pile. They are also high in protein. Freakily, when themaggots pupate, the resulting fly doesn't have a mouth. The only purpose of thefly is to mate, something it needs to do quickly as it only lives for a coupledays. The black soldier maggots are very active, process a lot of organicmatter quickly and are even used industrially to break down tons of manure athog and cattle farms. One entomologist noted that they love coffee grounds(those're my boys!). One posting string started off with "How do I get ridof these maggots?" and ended with someone else asking "Can someoneplease send me some maggots?" after an entomologist explained theinnocuousness and helpfulness of black soldier fly larvae.

I'mfortunate, I now understand, that I've got a few hundred maggots I can call myown...

Maggots on the move.




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