Large gray larva

Asked July 21, 2018, 5:14 PM EDT

What are they doing in my compost ? I'm careful about what foods go in compost, no meats, no milk, limit sugars. What have I done wrong? I will go to next compost class I find. I've put off going because I've making dirt and learning as I go. These critters are too much for me . Have I created a Frankenstine?

Lane County Oregon insect issues compost insect identification

1 Response

The gray insects in your compost may be soldier fly larvae (youngsters) which are commonly in compost piles (or containers/drums) which are are on the wet side. Soldier flies are considered beneficial because they help degrade dead organic matter whether deliberately processed by gardeners or occurs naturally in nature.

We can either confirm, or correct, the above identification after you send me a well-focused image or two when you reply to this email.

Soldier fly larvae (and adults) are harmless to people. The larvae are helpful in processing compost and garbage. They're most active when compost is too moist, such as may occur in compost tumblers or bins which are used exclusively (or nearly so) for food trimmings.

Gardeners can decrease soldier fly populations if they add relatively dry materials to the pile, perhaps dry grass clippings or shredded dry leaves.

"Black Solider Fly" has images and extensive text to fully explain their life cycle. See http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/livestock/black_soldier_fly.htm. Notice that the adult resembles a black wasp and that the youngsters are segmented and without legs.

Continue composting. You're doing the right thing to recycle spent organic matter.