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Larvaes on my Compost

Dear all,

This is my first post, please tell me if it’s not appropriate. I’m in Mozambique and have been composting for two years now. This lats 3 months my compost is getting full of larvaes (Can’t I post a picture here?). They even got my dog and in one week his skin was covered. Already solved.
is this normal? What has changed? What to do? I don’t want them on my compost even less if they get my dog sick.

Any light?

Cheers!

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It might be helpful if you post a picture. Conversations does allow one to drag a picture into the message box. This is a very appropriate topic. Thanks for posting your question!

What are you putting in the compost? My first guess is that you are not generating hot enough temperatures to kill these larvae, so you need more green, or higher nitrogen levels, Pile it higher. If you can get a compost thermometer to monitor the temps, that would be a good thing to do. Another thing would be to post a picture of the larvae and see if them can be identified, and maybe they come from a source that you can not use going forward. I’ve also found that the addition of mycelium spores can fight larvae. You can grow these, if you can find enough material to begin the process.

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Thnaks so much! here they are

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Thanks Dennis, sorry it took me long to answer for some reason my account was blocked by admin…lol
My compost is pretty hot I think but the thermometer is a good idea… The mycelium spore is wonderfull I saw that before but ignore how to create, will make some researches…I posted pictures already. Cheers

Do you have chickens? They’ll eat every one of those and love them. These are fat grubs, and chickens will gobble them right up. And it is a good source of food for them.

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Hello Valentina,
I agree with the ideas that getting the compost hot enough to kill the fly larvae is your first priority, and that chickens scratching through it would help. Both of these could be achieved if you stack it, cover it, wait for it to be hot (ideally 55-65 degrees C) and leave for 3-4 days. Then uncover and allow chickens to scratch it down and pick surviving maggots out before you stack it up again (saves you labour, feeds the chickens, controls the ‘pest’). This process should be repeated 3 or 4 times before letting the compost mature without turning. Contrary to the comment above, by the look of your photo I suspect your Carbon:Nitrogen ratio is low on the Carbon side. Do you add dry grass, wood chip, saw dust or anything dry and crumbly like this? If not there won’t be enough sugars to feed the thermophilic bacteria, and not enough oxygen either. The result is lower Temps, foul odours and flies.
I’m concerned by the mention of miaisis (fly infestation) of your dog. Pls elaborate. It is extremely unusual for a fly maggot to infest healthy animal tissue - only a very small number of spp do this, and they’re not carrion/compost feeders. ie it’s strange that the same maggots would be on rotting veg and living flesh. If it was adult flies on the dog, this would be more typical as they will feed on sweat or be attracted to smelly shaggy fur, especially in the wet conditions prevalent over the last few months. If it is maggots feeding on the dog it is probably putse fly, also known as tumbu or mango fly. These can infest human skin too. At a glance these look like typical blowfly, house fly or flesh fly (not really what the name suggests; they only feed on dead tissue) maggots. Pictures of the adults would also assist more detailed identification.
Apologies for questions over answers at this stage, but I’m passionate about compost, have an entomology background and live In Botswana so this thread caught my attention and I’d like to help you get to the bottom of it.

Hi Denis, I do not have chickens. I live in town. My compost is just from home vegetable waste and garden. I’m sure Chickens would love those lavaes!

Hello Guy, thanks for your answers/questions! lol
I’m still on very basic level of nowledge on composting. As I said this is a small compost I make with vegetable waste of my home in my backyard garden. I live in town. But I’m agree it might be missing someting to get higher temperatures. I brought yesterday some saw dust than I’ll be adding this week hope it helps.
Unfortunatly I didn’t take any pictures of the larvaes on my dog. The veterinary said it was from big green flies. I think they looked the same as the ones on my compost but could be just a coincidence.
The compost on the picture I buried it the day I posted here. I’m starting a new pile. Will post again if laraves come back. Hope they stay aaway. Thanks so much!

Thanks for the clarification Valentina,

Sounds like the offending fly larvae are from the family Calliphoridae, which are loosely termed blowflies and includes the ubiquitous greenbottle and bluebottle flies. These species are associated primarily with decomposition of organic wastes, targeting the highest nitrogen source available (meat is better than manure is better than veg), but always dead stuff. I suspect they mistook your dog for dead for some reason - perhaps he’s been rolling in manure or a carcass, as dogs love to do!?

On the compost front, yes sawdust is a good source of carbon & structure for compost. Just be careful of sawdust from sources where the timber was treated with chemicals (usually a green “CCA” dip in southern Africa, which is a highly toxic cocktail of Cyanide, copper and arsenic. Thats not good for anything living, which compost certainly is!). Other common sources of carbon are dry leaf litter, slashed grass, shredded paper/cardboard and garden waste. The rule of thumb is it should be dry and brittle, indicating that the nitrogen & bacterial components have degraded/disappeared from it.

Generally you want to aim for a ratio of 3-5 parts Carbon material as described above: 1-2 parts green/wet vegetable or food waste (microbial activity innocculum) : 1-2 parts manure or green legumes (nitrogen), either mixed or stacked in layers. The other crucial components are water (best added during the stacking process to distribute moisture evenly through the pile) and Oxygen, which is facilitated by the physical structure of the mix (ie you want to aim for a highly porous material) and the shape of the stack (more surface area = better aeration).

Alternatively, I highly suggest you investigate red wriggler earthworm and black soldier fly culture methods. These approaches are excellent for small scale, urban and household applications; small size, low labour requirement, handle consistent stream of low volumes from kitchen (but can scale up rapidly to handle larger volumes) and ability to handle concentrated “green” and food wastes rapidly. The resulting humus & liquid manure is extremely valuable in your garden, and the worms/larvae are an unbeatable fowl & fish feed. I have a DIY system at home that combines the 2 in one very simple system that requires almost no maintenance or labour. I’ll try to take some photos and maybe a sketch to illustrate this for you.

In addition to what Guy mentioned above, you might find it helpful to bury new additions to your compost pile every time you add them (if you’re not already doing so). In other words, instead of adding kitchen scraps to the top of the pile, dig a hole into the middle of the pile with a pitchfork, pour in the scraps, and cover them. This way, flies won’t have access to these fresh scraps to lay eggs. We have found that this eliminates most flies and smell problems associated with composts made with kitchen scraps.

Thanks Guy! Si it is really strange and scary the larvaes on my dog :unamused: I’ll be watching that…
For the sawdust I have no idea what kind of treatment they can use on that wood, this is a small carpenter… it makes really sense that if wood is treated i’m posoning my compst…
I can’t use any grass or dry leaves from my garden as there has been some kind of plague around the plants (all neigborhood gardens are the same) and I do not want to put that on my compost…

Thanks for all the advice, I’ll be studing how to implement, I’m so happy to learn about composting this is really fascinating! :grinning:

Cheers!

Thanks Noah, that makes sense right… Just my pile is always humid and smelly, I mean even if a dig a hole it will atract flies I think, probably adding more carbon as adviced here will make all the diference… Will let you all know how it goes :wink:

Cheers!