Return to the Soil Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Maggots in Compost Bin

Posted by KendraSchmidt none (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 12, 12 at 11:22

I looked in my compost bin today to stir it about, and I noticed maggots, they look dark in color, but I don't know if that's because of the compost or what have you.

I do not know if this is hazardous (the bin is outdoors), or if this is normal. I turn my compost at least every three days, mostly every other day. I keep the bin closed. Yet there are maggots inside.

Is this healthy for my soil? Are they going to add waste to the compost that will be beneficial. Is this a bad thing?

I tried looking for the answer online, but the threads I've seen turned into debates about whether or not a maggot is always dark or pale in color. I simply want to know if I should be worried that these maggots are in my compost. They look so disgusting, I can't stand it.

My compost has no smell. I've put lots of leaves inside. I'll put more if I have to.

PLEASE, WHAT CAN I DO TO GET RID OF THESE THINGS AND ARE THEY DANGEROUS OR WORRISOME TO BEGIN WITH?

Please let me know. Thanks guys/ladies.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

If they are the big flat Soldier Fly larvae, they are not particularly harmful to the compost. The adult soldier flies will generally fly away and not create a cloud of flies.

Usually their presence indicates the compost is too wet or too high in nitrogen, or both. Did you mix the leaves into the existing material, or just lay them on top? The pile will dry out and rebalance faster if you mix the dry stuff in. And if the weather is hot and dry, leave the lid off for awhile too.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Is there a way to get rid of these maggots? I'm worried that my compost bin has suddenly become more trouble than it's worth.

What if it's not a Soldier Fly? Will it be dangerous? What can I do to correct this? :(


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Those maggots are there because the organic matter that is your compost is probably a bit too moist. These larva of flies need a relatively moist environment to live and grow in. I have looked at the larva, maggots, of many different fly species and I have a very hard time identifying the different ones and since many fly species are known to be carriers of diseases I do not allow any to exist in my compost.
You can sprinkle a dessicant on the maggots, something like blood meal works.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

If it's that much of a problem, you could empty the entire bin and spread the material out on the ground. When it's exposed to sun and dry air, the maggots will start to die off and some will be eaten by birds too.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

The only way they can get inside the bin is if the lid is left off long enough for one fly to go lay eggs, or if flies can get in the holes or vents, or you compost something that a fly laid eggs on. If you heat or precook things that you think could have eggs on them. For example if apples fell from a tree and you microwaved first or boiled them. Once they are there it is hard to get them out. If you remove the compost to dry that may or may not work and other flies could then lay more eggs. You can quickly get rid of that compost by burying it, and starting over following procedure. I hope your bin does not have big vents. I don't know what kind of bin you are using. I like no vent bins.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

TT, I still don't know how it's possible to do aerobic composting in an airtight container. :-*

A "normal" compost pile or bin will have some insect life in it, which is why we don't do it in the garage or right under the kitchen window. This sounds like an excessive maggot problem that can be fixed without extraordinary measures, and avoided in the future with proper management.

Burying the whole batch and starting over is indeed an option. Let the worms and soil microbes finish the job.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

It will be just as good for your soil once buried. It will not be discarded that way.

To tox:
My new bin has no vents. I have two bins like that now, and they work just the same as the vented bin, but when it in a later stage, I move the compost to the vented bin. At this time the flies have lost interest. I may have some insects later on in a vented bin. Maggots I don't like because they are gross and they eat my compost. Later stage compost insects are not as aggressive. The only reason I move it, is to make room for new batches. If you had only one bin, you can do the whole process just in the non vented bin. I have not tried that but it is hypothetically possible. The main thing it should drain to the ground or else it will get too wet. Good worms can come in, flies that make maggots stay out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bin without vents and I reviewed it here


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Ah, I see. It's *not* aerobic, that's the answer. I've never seen such a bin.

Their website says,

"The Bosmere 103 Gallon Deluxe Hot Compost Bin is designed to take advantage of the hot composting method, which works with low or no oxygen."

I may be splitting hairs, but this is not strictly correct, since everyone knows aerobic composting can be quite hot.

I think I'd rather have a few insects than the stench that must emanate from this thing when it's full of food waste and you open it on a hot day. :-]

In any case it sounds like you have a two-stage, anaerobic/aerobic process. It sounds similar to a method I once read about in Mother Earth News for grass clippings: Seal up a bag of fresh clippings and leave it for a couple of months. When opened it had turned to something very much like fresh manure, which you could then compost aerobically or do whatever else you wanted with it.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

"The Bosmere 103 Gallon Deluxe Hot Compost Bin is designed to take advantage of the hot composting method, which works with low or no oxygen."

I don't what to think about that. I just ignored the claim. I don't care if I composting without or without air, but it works just the same as my other black bins such as an earthmachine. It does get air, it is not air tight. The only difference is the lack of vents and the door. The bin gets air when I open it up, it has air exchange. I just don't leave it off very long. I only put new stuff in there, and maybe give it a fluff if I feel like it. I don't leave the door off long enough for the flies to come in and lay eggs.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Does anyone else get the notion that composting has become too analytic? My experience for years has been with open air bins measuring at least 4 ft x 4 ft with 3 ft min. organic material. Turn it every so often until it transforms to a moderate consistency, then let nature do it's job.

Meanwhile, start a new pile and repeat the process. I always have at least three open air bins working together. Compost happens - just do it in an open bin.

Puzzled why gardeners elect to choose this closed plastic bin route . . . gardens are organic, composting should be in an organic environment, not some petro-processed device. (JMHO . . . not fact)

Have I been doing it wrong for the past 40 years (with a break somewhere in the middle to build my career)? Otherwise, my yearly bountiful vegetable harvest surely doesn't support that premise.

Please enlighten me with your wisdom, and I may change my ways. ;-)


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

The benefit of plastic besides the fly eggs it will not attract raccoons, rats and other critters to your garden. So, if you want to compost bread and cheese you can do it. But, whatever works is ok.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Some people tend to want to over analyze the composting process. Even very tight composting bins are not tight enough to keep out adult flies, or any other insects, and sometimes the materials we put in to be composted have the eggs from them already on that material.
If someone made a compost bin so tight that not even flies could enter the material would go to anaerbic (in the absence of air) digestion and would smell so putrid that no one could get close enough to spread it around,but there would be no maggots in that compost since they too need air to live and grow.
While there are many wee critters that work, live, in compost not all are that desirable to have and some only live in an active composting pile during certain stages. If the bacteria digesting your compost are working dillegently and are generating lots of heat, earthworms will not be in that compost, and other critters, such as maggots, will not be either.
I think many advocates of allowing maggots to live and grow in compost confuse the Black Solder Beetle, a predator and beneficial insect, with the Black Soldier Fly adults that do nothing worthwhile except mate and lay eggs.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Maybe it squicks you out, but I don't think they're anything to worry about.

If you ever grow a meadow, you get all sorts of insects as part of the food web, chomping on organic decay.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Thank you for your help, I went to turn the compost today and couldn't see maggots or movement. I stirred for several minutes but saw nothing. I pray that this means that they flew away.

I tossed in a bunch of leaves to attempt to dry up the compost mixture. I don't know if this is why I don't see the maggots or not, but I tossed in a few more leaves for good measure today.

I believe it's the shrimp shells causing the moisture. It's the only truly wet thing that ever finds its way into my compost. Not sure if I'll continue composting shrimp shells. Seems to be more trouble than it's worth.

Thank you everyone. My bin does have vents, rather large ones actually. It's a plastic bin, I wasn't sure about dealing with the rotting of a wood bin.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

If you have large vents, I have an idea! You can put some screen type of material over the vents to turn big vents into tiny vents, and keep larger flies out. You will still get fruit flies as they are very small if you compost fruit, however. Shredded paper mixed it can dry the compost and seems to also discourage insects. I shred up brown bags bags and the paper that meat is wrapped in from whole foods. If you use a lot of paper it will even discourage worms. So, I don't use too much paper, but it is a free source of browns. However leaves still make a nicer compost because they provide more fiber to your compost. But, if you are short on leaves paper is a good brown or you buy bagged shredded wood for a brown. Once it is drier the maggots can't live in there anymore. It is worth the cost of buying the wood, because it makes such a nice compost, so it's not a waste of money. You will get it back in quality compost. I got 10 bags on Kelloggs amend at home depot when it went on sale for 4 dollars for 2 cubic feet. That will make a lot of good compost.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

"The benefit of plastic besides the fly eggs it will not attract raccoons, rats and other critters to your garden. So, if you want to compost bread and cheese you can do it. But, whatever works is ok."

tropical thought . . . I do not get maggots, rats, racoons, or other critters rummaging though our compost bins. However, we do get micro-organisms and insects I cannot name, feasting on the mix. It seems though, that they are serving a purpose in this chain.

I believe the key to success with organic compost is to not add pre-cooked kitchen scraps, or any animal derivatives. Essentially, raw vegetable + fruit scraps, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells and yard/garden clippings/debris, are first fed through our chipper/shredder and then added to the currently active bin.

By the end of the season, we have enough to top off all the beds - followed by another addition which is tilled in early spring with whateveer organic ammendments the soil sample test results suggest.

It's a cycle that repeats and works successfully every year. We live all year on our produce, whether fresh during season, or parboiled/vacuum-bagged/frozen during the off season.

Clear as mud?


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Is this the April Fools' thread?


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Yeah my compost bin can be BONE DRY and when I add leftovers and table scraps and pieces of veggies and fruit I get BSFL on the items. NOT in all areas of my bin but in the EXACT items. An example would be melon rinds or avocados. The BSFL live only in certain foods and NOT in the rest of the bin as my bin is never over wet. They eat and poop and fly away. So for a person to say that they are a result of an over wet or over damp bin is only HALF correct. BSFL are a result of what is IN your bin also. Like I said, your bin can be bone dry but as soon as you add some veggies or fruits with a bit of moisture your bound to get some kind of bugs. As long as your bin is not over ridden and FULL of bugs or soaking wet it is OK and Its all part of the process. Just keep your bin semi dry and a little moist and you should have no problems cutting down on the "bug" population. If its too wet you can open it up and air it out for a day or two. Personally I find a small population of BSFL are beneficial to the bin.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

I agree with blazeglory. The maggots are there to eat the raw veggie scraps, regardless of how wet the compost it.

I keep my entire pile a bit on the dry side and I thank the maggots for eating and pooping. Maggot poo = good compost.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

My friend did not believe me when I told her that there people who want as many icky bugs in their compost as possible because it makes them feel macho. Bugs won't scare them. When they can proudly wallow in as many maggots as possible, they feel powerful.


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

TT, you can be as eccentric as you want in your garden, as long as the inexperienced who come here asking questions are duly informed that you're out on the far end of the bell curve. :-]

Pile it up, let it rot ----> compost

Always has, always will.

I'm going out to the garden to wallow in maggots. LOL


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 16, 12 at 11:32

They're not bad in a good gravy.

;-)

Lloyd


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Sir! You offend my delicate palate. Everyone knows a Bechamel sauce is the only proper accompaniment. I suppose you'd swill Chateau Gallo with it, as well. Peasant!


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 16, 12 at 11:58

I come from poor stock I guess. Mom served everything in a good gravy (sometimes it was best not to ask what "it" was), it's the way I was raised.

Occasionally, bacon and fried onions were used in lieu of gravy, I suppose that would work equally as well in this particular case.

:-)

Lloyd


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Everything's better with bacon and onions!


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Quote/
Yeah my compost bin can be BONE DRY and when I add leftovers and table scraps and pieces of veggies and fruit I get BSFL on the items. NOT in all areas of my bin but in the EXACT items. An example would be melon rinds or avocados. The BSFL live only in certain foods and NOT in the rest of the bin as my bin is never over wet. They eat and poop and fly away. So for a person to say that they are a result of an over wet or over damp bin is only HALF correct. BSFL are a result of what is IN your bin also. Like I said, your bin can be bone dry but as soon as you add some veggies or fruits with a bit of moisture your bound to get some kind of bugs.
\quote
------------------------------------------

I ALWAYS put a layer of leaves or grass clippings over any household compost ingredients. This seems to prevent any insects from feeding.

Also a balance of browns n greens n water heats the pile up enuff so nothing wants to live in it.

HTH


 o
RE: Maggots in Compost Bin

Yeah I agree. I notice when I layer grass clippings my bin is bug free for a while.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Soil Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here