Eggs Hatch! Complete Reproduction Cycle of Hermetia Illucens Achieved in Captivity

(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.

(1) Sheppard, D. Craig.  Jeffery K Tomberlin.  John A. Joyce.  Barbara C. Kiser.  Sonya M. Sumner.  “Rearing Methods for the Black Soldier Fly (Diptera: Stratiomyidae).”  J. Med. Entomol. 39(4): 695-698 (2002)
(2) Booth, Donald C.  Craig Sheppard.  “Oviposition of the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae): Eggs, Masses, Timing, and Site Characteristics.”  J. Environmental Entomology.  39(2) 421-423 (1984)
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6 Responses to “Eggs Hatch! Complete Reproduction Cycle of Hermetia Illucens Achieved in Captivity”


  1. 1 Jon Koller 2 April 2009 at 7:17 pm

    So what’s the secret? I’ll be constructing an indoor facility over the next week or two. For the physical layout (this will probably be in a closet), it seems you need lots of leaves, plenty of space above the leaves and some sort of separation between the mating area and the ovipositing area. I’m a bit concerned about the humidity issue, what dew point were you operating at?

    Also, was this in a greenhouse or completely indoors? Did you have to do anything for light? What sort of luminescence does the 200 PAR translate to?

    And what sort of problems did you have with eggs? From the literature, it seemed like they were susceptible to fungal attack.

    Cheers,
    Jon Koller
    Detroit

    • 2 gcanary 24 April 2009 at 11:53 am

      Jon, sent you an email. Best of luck!

      • 3 magotman 29 August 2010 at 1:04 pm

        Hi gcanary, We are trying to create a sustanable colony here in U.K. Luckily we have all the facilities. I.E. large poly tunnels. 30ft x60ft 12ft high. electric water etc. Can you add any expertees…..from your obviously successful trials..? The U.K. needs you !!!!!

  2. 4 Andreas 30 June 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Hi,

    I have tried to breed hermetia illucens as a feed for my prtiles in Germany. The flies live in a 2 x 3 m green house. Temperatue is 30°C, humidity 90% and above, very much sunlight. According to the information on your site this conditions should be perfect, but up to now no mating or oviposition has happend yet. Do you have any tips for me?

    Best regards
    Andreas

    • 5 gcanary 17 August 2009 at 4:40 pm

      Andreas,

      I don’t have any tips for you immediately. Try reading the article by Sheppard about breeding methods. Its cited in my posts.

      Do you have plastic plants? Plastic plants help provide space for the mating “dances” (called Lekking behavior)

  3. 6 Stephen Seah 23 January 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Hi All, I have tried and was successful at the breeding and mass cultivation.. please see my YouTube here to see the baby BSFs processing brewery waste I collected in Tons loads from a local brewery here in Singapore..

    Any questions feel free to email me at stehen@terracyclesg.com thanks


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