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An Automated Incubator for Rearing Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Hermetia illucens)

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 64(6): 1989-1997. (doi: 10.13031/trans.14623) @2021
Authors:   Patrick Erbland, Andrei Alyokhin, Michael Peterson
Keywords:   Biological conversion, Black soldier fly, Metabolic heat generation, Waste management.


Black soldier fly larvae can be used to convert agricultural wastes into animal feed.

A prototype automated incubation system for producing black soldier fly larvae was designed and tested.

The system was successful in growing larvae to a harvestable size.

The system retained metabolic heat generated by larval and microbial activity.

Abstract. Biological conversion of agricultural wastes into animal feed ingredients using larvae of black soldier fly, (Hermetia illucens) is a promising technology that improves the sustainability of agriculture. We designed and tested a prototype automated incubation system for producing black soldier fly larvae. The system consisted of six 50 L plastic bins enclosed on a ventilated metal rack (178 cm high, 66 cm wide). Water was supplied to maintain a moisture level of about 60% in each bin via soaker hoses connected to sensor-activated solenoid valves. The system was successful in maintaining moisture and temperature suitable for larval development and for growing larvae to harvestable size with minimal labor and energy consumption. Biological activity in the bins generated a considerable amount of metabolic heat, most of which was trapped in the substrate in each bin. This heat may be valuable for rearing black soldier fly larvae in areas with cool climates because this species has low tolerance of cold temperatures but challenging in areas with warm climates.

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