The Caped Crusaders of Compost (Or Black Soldier Flies Aren’t the Bad Guys)

You know that fabulous speech at the end of The Dark Knight where Commissioner Gordon says, “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.”? Well, I love that speech. And that movie.

And apparently Woodley has seen the movie so many times, she has taken that speech to heart.

My dog thinks she’s the silent guardian of the second floor.

Because every night she stands guard at our window, waiting for feral cats to feed on the kibble left in the church parking lot below. My little red dog is convinced it’s her job to protect us from stray cats. She takes this job so seriously, in fact, that I often wake to find her at the window at 4 am, her watchful eye on the scene below. Every once in a while she sounds the canine alarm to alert us that feline danger is near, but mostly she just sits silently watching with cat murder on her mind.

So anyway, that’s all very much like Batman to me….

Do you know what else is like Batman? Me. (Just go with me here for a moment.) And my compost bin is like the crime-ridden city of Gotham.

I’m like the silent guardian of my compost bin, and apparently, I’m not very good at my job.

Today I went outside to stir the soil and noticed I had an abundance of maggoty looking things in my bin.

See? Maggoty things infesting my compost.

They first started to appear after my watermelon incident, and now they have multiplied at an alarming rate. I was initially troubled by their presence, but after some research, I learned they’re actually awesome.

These gross things are black soldier fly larvae, or Hermetia illucens, and they’re terribly efficient at breaking down nitrogen-rich kitchen scraps. What’s more, it turns out they fare well in extremely hot bins (which mine is due to the southern sun exposure on my balcony and the 45 straight days of temperatures in the 90’s).

Not only are the larvae good for my bin, but the black soldier flies themselves do not bother humans, are easy to catch, and they keep away other insects. AND you can feed the larvae to chickens. Not that I have chickens yet, but I desperately want them. I mean, I covet chickens. Los Angeles is zoned for them, so as soon as I have a yard, I will have chickens.

So, anyway, this black soldier fly situation is actually awesome. Though I initially set out to find out ways to hunt them and eradicate them, now I’m like the good people of Gotham realizing these flying black things only seem like the enemy. And they’re actually what my bin needs. So maybe my black soldier flies are really the Batman of my bin, and I’m just a simple city dwelling fool.

True, their presence sort of means bad news for my red worm population, but the red worms weren’t faring well in the first place due to the heat (and that whole drowning in watermelon incident).

So, now I’m embracing my new black soldier fly friends. If you want to read more about composting with black soldier flies, check out Steamy Kitchen here.

Now if only Woodley would realize the homeless kitties mean her no harm….