question about compost bins?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by r.h. in okla., Aug 28, 2005.

  1. About 2 weeks ago I made a compost bin out of a plastic trash can with a lid on it. All I done was used a 5/8ths spade bit and drilled several holes in the bottom and then placed the bin upon two split tree logs about 2' long and spread apart so the bin could get air underneath. I placed in the bin about a gazillion zuchinni squash that I picked out of the garden and couldn't give away. To this I added a ton of dried lawn clippings and filled the bin to the top. Since then every few days I add any kitchen vegetable waste that we accumulate. This morning I opened it to add more kitchen waste and to turn the compost and their is about a quadzillion white grub larvaes all in it and the bin is now only about 1/3 full.

    Is this normal? Are the big larvaes suppose to be in there? Am I doing this right? Also, I have this bin placed outside next to the kitchen entrance so it would be convenient to dump waste in. Will these larva's start crawling inside my house? Should I relocate to keep them from in the house?
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    r.h., why doesn't this happen to me? I've been composting for 40+ years and have never had the chance to view that lovely sight! They are soldier fly larvae. They are the greatest composters of all insects when it comes to normal garbage. I seem to be just north of their line. Regardless, they won't hurt you or come wriggling into the house.

    Your bin idea is OK. It's just going to take a long time for anything to turn to compost. Without regular turning and mixing, what you end up with is the slow natural rotting. Nothing wrong with that. It's the simplest basic method and a no-brainer. That's why it's popular with city dwellers.

    Martin
     

  3. CoonXpress

    CoonXpress Well-Known Member

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    R.H., sounds like you got a bunch of ready made fish bait. If I was closer, I would come by and show you how to use them.
    Will
     
  4. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Paquebot...I JUST wrote you an email asking the same question! I looked it up on the web and sure enough I have kazillions of them in my compost! THAT is a GOOD thing? They are nasty looking creatures. My daughter thought that they were roach larvae or something??? So....we should leave them there? How can we turn it without crushing them? What do we do Mr. P? Thanks Martin!
     
  5. Martin, thanks for the reassurance. I wasn't sure if this was suppose to happen. I've made compost mounds before but seem like I never really got to use them as it would take till next year for everything to break down, and usually some animal would get into it and scatter everything all over the place. This time I decided to try the closed in bin and it is just amazing how fast that big load has dwindled down. I guess with the help of those larvaes.

    Will, while I was studying them trying to figure out what they were, in the back of my mind the fishing light bulb went off :) . "Wow, those look like they would make good fishing bait". If I can find some time in the next few days I might just give them a try. Do you think a person could freeze some of them for future use. I freeze grasshoppers when I can find them in a abundant supply.
     
  6. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    If you don't have any meat products in your compost bin, you can generally figure that any insect life are good guys. (For that matter, there's actually nothing wrong with carrion fly maggots either as they are also doing their assigned natural cleanup chores.)

    Soldier fly larvae indeed are used for fishing. Apparently they have a fairly tough skin to better stay on the hook. Thinking back to my younger days, I do now recall seeing them in our silo pit before cleaning it out for the fresh silage. There were those plus rat-tail maggots, another which consumes vegetable matter.

    Site below for show and tell about soldier flies!

    http://www.happydranch.com/8.html

    Martin
     
  7. 1/4acre

    1/4acre Well-Known Member

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    Paquebot, Thanks for the info on soldier fly's. :goodjob: I knew if I checked the archives or even back a few days I would find some answers. :bow: Now I just have to find out whats eating my collards. :grump:
     
  8. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oh, how I long to have soldier fly larvae, but they just don't seem to "happen" around here -- and the very informational site you shared does not sell the larvae. :( I have read of "dancing" putrescables in the compost pile, because the soldier flies are so active!

    Oh, well, I'll just have to deal with the run-of-the-mill "wax worms" (fly maggots). But they do make good bait for bluegill!

    Pony!
     
  9. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Is there any way to mail these critters? Or would they be considered dangerous? They would certainly move in the package and make a scratchy noise because you can hear them in the bin. I am willing to try swapping these....if someone wants some. I wouldn't imagine they will last through winter will they???? Is there a safe place that they over winter in harsher climates?
     
  10. Cindy in NY

    Cindy in NY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pacquebot - the site you listed and others show black larvae. r.h. in okla said she had white larvae. Are these the same? We get big white larvae in our compost but they are Japanese beetle grubs.
     
  11. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Mine range in color from light tan to darker brown. I think it must be age related.
     
  12. Cindy in NY

    Cindy in NY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Martin! I checked out a picture of a stag beetle larvae and that is definately what we have seen in the compost. Makes sense since there are some old pieces of pallet in the bottoms! Since they eat up dead wood, I guess we should stop squishing them! :eek: