Notes from Windward: #69

Reducing Three Pests with One System

Andrew describes a larva experiment

     I recently began an experiment of re-use for the bodies of the seed snatching squirrels being trapped and skinned. If need be, we could eat the squirrels, but right now it is not necessarily the best option.

     I suspended a five gallon bucket over the duck pond. The bucket has ¾ inch holes drilled in the side, and some smaller holes in the bottom. What we hope will happen is that the dead squirrels will attract fly’s looking for a suitable place to lay their eggs. The fly’s go into the bucket, lay the eggs there rather than somewhere else. The eggs hatch, and through the first two stages of larval development will feed on the dead squirrels.

a larva bucket suspended over the duck-ponics tank

     When they're ready to change into flies, the larva look for a nice dry place in which to turn into fly. In theory, this will lead them out of the bucket via the large holes drilled in the side. Thus, they fall into the duck pond where either the ducks or the goldfish can enjoy a fat, juicy, protein rich dietary supplement.

     The carcasses have been in the bucket for about a week now. There are fly larvae in various stages of development. For a picture of the larva at work inside the bucket, Click Here.

     Last year we put fish in some of the 300 gallon open-top containers used for watering. The fish ate the mosquito larva, and cut down on presence of the blood sucking pests. If all goes according to plan, I will set up some more of these systems above the watering containers. Gold fish get as big as the conditions allow, and can grow to anywhere from a few centimeters to a meter! They have already shown themselves to be hearty enough to survive a winter in the 250 gallon barrel-ponics pond with nothing to eat but algae. By giving them a 300 gallon tank, a seasonal source of protein from mosquito and fly larva, as well as the algae, they should be able to do some serious growing.

     This system is a good example of integrating our desires and needs, as well as playing a role in our larger food system.

     The squirrels that use our garden and greenhouse as a kitchen are lured and trapped. Their skins are taken for tanning, and use in coats and other clothing. The rest of the body can be fully utilized in the above mentioned system where our ducks and fish benefit from the fat Larva. Thus, the fly population is reduced because the larva never make it to the adult stage. And with the addition of fish to the watering containers, mosquitoes don’t get a chance to reach the end of their life cycle. In this way the squirrel, fly and mosquito populations can be kept low in the immediate vicinity of our living spaces.

     The way I see it, the system integrates the desire for us humans not to be bit by mosquitoes, and not to be bothered by flies in our face and when butchering, and not to have our plants eaten by squirrels; along with finding a use for all the protein, fat and other nutrient in the ‘waste’ products of butchering and trapping squirrels; additionally helping to fulfill the need to diversify our animal feed. A well balanced diet can be attained by combining the fly system, black soldier fly larva system, earth worm production, mulching of native grasses and the feeding of cheap and readily available grains raised by local farms.

     Admittedly, raising fly larva is a yucky concept, but it's simple, effective and involves no insecticides. If all goes according to theory, we can reduce the presence of three pests with one system; while getting useful products at every step along the way.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 69