(Bogotá, Colombia)—Humans may require music by Marvin Gay or scented candles, Black Soldier Flies require humidity and temperature to be just right to mate and lay eggs—and especially for those eggs to hatch. After a few months of work, BioSystems Design nailed all the right conditions and had its first eggs of a contained reproductive cycle hatch this week.
Despite a few articles on the subject, the hatchings were not a forgone conclusion. In a 2002 short communication(1) on rearing methods, the authors note that other researchers (Tingle, 1975) had failed to achieve multiple generations using collected wild eggs, and that other researchers had failed to achieve mating or egg hatching in a greenhouse environment. Even more worrying, early reports from other researchers working “at elevation”: 1,435m/4,708ft (Cartago, Costa Rica) and 1,500m/4,921 ft (Dalat, Vietnam) were not good. Too high an elevation was theorized as a detrimental factor. Bogotá sits at an even higher elevation of 2,640m/8,661 ft.
Additionally, Bogotá’s weather is not conducive to Black Soldier Flies. In its best months (Jan-March) its average highs are 19+°C/67°F. Bogotá also lacks the direct sunlight that the 2002 communication noted, “was reported to encourage mating.” In its best months, six hours of sunshine per day is the average. In its worst months, about 3.8 hours is the average.
To overcome these obstacles, BioSystems Design designed its own mating facility. A previous 1984 article(2) noted that larvae lay eggs mostly when temperatures are between 27.5-37.5°C (81.5-99.5°F). Therefore, due to the temperature issues, BioSystems Design was forced to use a greenhouse environment that had caused other researchers problems.
After experimenting with a temperature and humidity control system for a number of weeks, we’re proud to report that the collected eggs from the greenhouse environment hatched in an incubation chamber. Given the obstacles overcome, BioSystems Design is now confident in saying that the process can be replicated in a controlled environment anywhere. Now, like cautious mothers we’re off to monitor our growing larvae and make sure they’re in the best conditions possible.