By: Anne Baley
Your compost bin is filled with kitchen scraps, manure, and other spoiled vegetable matter, so a logical question would be, “Should I have a lot of flies in my compost?” The answer is yes and no.
Flies in Compost Bin
If you don’t build your compost pile in the right way, you may have a lot of flies around the bin constantly. On the other hand, good compost pile management is not only a great way to create more of that black gold for your gardens, it’s the best way to keep houseflies in compost to a minimum.
Houseflies are known to spread a number of human diseases, so their appearance near your compost is not only annoying, but bad for your health and that of your family. Take good care of your compost pile to help prevent the spread of flies.
Reasons and Fixes for Houseflies in Compost
Most pests and houseflies appear in compost piles because they are filled with their natural food. Once they eat, they lay eggs in the same area, trying to guarantee a food supply for their young. These eggs hatch into larva, or maggots, in a few days, compounding the “ick factor” connected to flies. Leave your compost heap alone long enough and you could have a scene out of CSI in the back of your yard.
Compost pile management is the fix for this problem. Compost flies will only live when the temperature is right, and if they have a ready supply of food. Beginning with the food, always bury your green, or wet, ingredients with brown ingredients topped with a layer of soil. If the manure and rotting vegetables aren’t on top of the soil, the flies can’t get to them easily.
Turning the pile on a regular basis will increase the oxygen in the middle of the heap, encouraging the organisms that decay the pile, and heating up the interior in the process. Keep the pile level instead of letting it pile up in the middle, to prevent cooler edges and a warmer center.
If you have a problem with flies in compost bin, begin by turning and then raking the pile every day. Continue this until the larva die and the flies move on. When the problem is fixed, or the air cools down considerably, reduce the turning and raking to twice a week. You’ll still create enough heat to keep the flies away, but won’t have to do as much physical work.
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Read more about Composting Basics
- In the US, 20% of a typical landfill is made up of food waste.
- In the UK, 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year.
- When this food waste enters a landfill it releases methane.
- Methane is a damaging greenhouse gas that affects our climate.
It might seem like topics such as climate change and environmental pollution are just too daunting for one person to tackle. But composting is something we can all do. It is simple, takes little effort and if we all did it would make a huge difference.
Here’s a good example. Stopping food going to landfills is the equivalent of removing a quarter of the UK’s cars from the roads.
With this in mind, here’s everything you need to know about composting:
Where to site your compost container/heap
There are several factors to consider when it comes to siting your compost bin. A good compost heap prefers average temperatures throughout the year. This is because once your compost gets going it will attract tiny organisms such as bacteria, insects, worms, flies and fungi.
These creatures don’t like extreme cold or blazing heat. Therefore, the site of your compost heap is going to be very important. Too hot and it will dry out. Too cold and the organisms that need to flourish will lay dormant.
If you are using a bin then site it where it will get a little shade during the day. Place it on earth so that it can easily drain. Not to mention that by doing this it allows worms and such like to come up through the ground into the compost.
Your mixture will thrive if it is kept away from the rain, it stays relatively warm, allows air inside and can drain.
The last factor to consider is how far from your house the compost is. Remember, you are going to be walking out into the garden with kitchen waste at all times of the year. Therefore, it makes sense not to site is miles away so you have a far old trudge to get to it.
Likewise, you don’t want it too near the house in case you get flies or a bit of a whiff during the summer. Keep these things in mind when you decide where you want to position it.
When to compost
Of course, you can add to your compost at any time of the year. In order to give your compost the best possible advantage in its life, however, you should start it towards the end of the summer and the start of autumn.
This is because it’s likely that you will have more grass cuttings and leaves to go into your compost pile. In addition, the earth is going to be warm and wet. This allows those vital creatures to come up from the ground and work their magic on the materials inside the compost.
What to put into the compost
This is where some people get confused. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. What you should be aiming for is a good mix of different kinds of organic materials. A good mix is 50% soft green materials and 50% hard brown materials.
Experts suggest the following:
- Green materials – grass clippings, fruit and vegetable peelings, annual weeds, green leaves, uncooked kitchen waste, old pet bedding.
- Brown materials – wood pruning, hedge trimmings, paper, wood chippings, dead leaves, cardboard, plant stems, straw.
A good compost will have a lovely 50/50 mixture of both green materials and brown. You shouldn’t, for instance, put more brown material in than green. Brown material is dry and dead. Too much of it and you won’t have enough organic stuff to attract the living organisms.
These help to break down the mixture. Similarly, too much green stuff will clog the mixture up. This is the stuff that rots down and gets those creatures working. If there is a lot of green material the air cannot get in. And a good compost needs air.
Turning the compost
A good compost also needs turning over. This aerates the heap and mixes all the materials up nicely. Apart from putting in the wrong ratio of materials, not turning the heap is probably the biggest failure of most composts.
A garden fork is your best tool. As long as you do this once a month you should get good results. However, it is not a good idea to turn the compost during the winter months. This is because of certain creatures, such as slow worms, do not like being disturbed in the winter.
If you are learning how to compost for the first time, you might come across a few problems. These are the most common problems:
- The compost is wet and slimy: Too many grass cuttings or green materials. Try adding some paper or cardboard and giving the compost a good mix.
- Compost is too dry: Not enough green stuff. Add some kitchen waste or vegetable peelings and mix well.
- Worms in the lid: The mixture is too wet and needs turning. If there are a lot of earthworms in the lid you can remove some and put them back in the garden.
- Flies in the compost: Too much fruit in the compost or you have laid the fruit on top and it has attracted too many flies. You shouldn’t get flies in a compost so if you have a lot of fruit, for instance, fallen apples in autumn, cover them well with brown materials.
- Compost is not composting: You can buy additives to kick-start your compost. These typically contain nitrogen or carbon. Alternatively, if you want to keep it natural, apparently a little amount of pee is good. However, get a man to sprinkle as it is less acidic than female pee!
“Peeing on a compost heap activates the composting process helps to produce a ready supply of lovely organic matter to add back to the garden.” Rosemary Hooper, Wimpole Estate – Cambridgeshire
By weeing on your compost heap you are also saving water. Flushing your toilet uses an average of anything from four and a half to nine liters of water.
When will the compost be ready?
Compost can take anything from 6 months to 2 years to fully break down and be ready. You have to be patient and let nature take its course. You’ll know when it is ready as the result will be a sweet-smelling, dark crumbly mixture.
Good luck with your composting!
How Can I Keep Compost From Attracting Bugs, Insects, and Pests?
To avoid these problems, the best thing you can do is monitor the situation and take action before it gets out of control. Implement the following strategies to keep your compost from attracting bugs insects and pests.
Shred all material before putting it in the compost
Organic matter that has been cut and shredded into small pieces will decompose more quickly. The quicker this happens, the less likely it is to attract bugs and insects. These pests are looking for food, but if the material decomposes quickly, there will be nothing for them to eat, and they will stay away from your compost.
Manage the moisture level of the compost
Don’t allow your compost to become too wet. It needs to be damp in order to work, as this creates the heat and conditions necessary for decomposition, but too much water will attract a lot of bugs. Begin with a wet compost and then continue to monitor this dampness over time. The compost should have the same wetness as a sponge that has had the water squeezed out, so only add more water as it is required.
Pick out white, c-shaped grubs
Most of these bugs are harmless. However, some have a real appetite for vegetables and may find their way to your garden. There is unlikely to be a huge number of these in your compost, so the best way to deal with them is to pick them out with your hands and destroy them.
Bury waste in dirt
Wet, fresh waste is significantly attractive to insects and other pests. Always ensure this organic material is covered thoroughly by dirt. Bury it right in so that none is uncovered. Otherwise, insects will be sure to hunt it out. Green matter, such as food scraps, can be particularly attractive to flies.
If it is sitting on top, they will seek out this food source and set up camp within your compost. They will likely lay eggs in this location as there is a healthy food source available. If this waste is buried, pests are less likely to seek it out, and you will reduce the number of flies hanging in and around your compost.
Choose the right compost bin
The type of compost bin you choose can impact the severity of pest infestations. Select one that is sealed to try and discourage bugs and insects from hunting down food and taking up residency. Remember that bugs can get in very small holes, so you may need to do some research to find a compost bin that is right for you.
Never add meat or pet droppings to your compost
Meat and pet dropping should never be added to your compost as they simply do not make good plant food. The other reason is that this is a surefire way to attract bugs, insects, and other pests.
The meat and droppings will have creatures from all over the place coming to your compost. Funnily enough, corncobs also seem to result in the same problem, although these are perfectly suitable for your compost. To avoid the bugs, just make sure they are buried properly in the soil.
Regularly aerate your compost
Mix and turn your compost material regularly to ensure oxygen is circulating. This will speed up the entire decomposition process, as air can now get to the center rather than just the edges. Make sure the pile is always level and does not build up in the center. If this happens, the middle of the pile will get warm while the outside remains cooler. The aim is to get the entire pile of material decomposing at the same rate.
In many cases, certain organic matter attracts certain types of insects. If you are finding that your compost is being swarmed by a particular type of fly or insect, it’s time to mix things up. Insects are often attracted to green compost, which is food scraps and other fresh organic matter.
Start adding brown organic matter to discourage them from coming to your compost and reduce their overall presence. Brown matter includes things like dried leaves, sawdust, twigs, and sticks, hay, plain paper that has not been printed on, cardboard with no wax coating, and fabric.
Adapt your compost until it consists of 50-80% of brown matter. This way, insects will be put off your compost and navigate elsewhere for food. Always make sure the top layer consists solely of brown material to prevent bug and insect infestations.
Splash your compost with boiling water
If all else fails, you might need to boil a pot of water and pour this onto your compost. The hot water will kill insects and larvae that are residing in your compost. Place the lid on the compost bin as soon as you pour the water, locking the heat within the container. You can even pour some water on the outside of the bin, running it down the sides, to create heat from the exterior as well.
Vacuum up the bugs and insects
Another way to kill and remove pests in your compost is to vacuum them up. Identify where flies or other bugs are grouping together and use a vacuum to remove them. You can do this by moving the vacuum head around the space.
Do not vacuum any of the compost material or earthworms, as these creatures play an important role in the decomposition of the compost material. Make sure you empty your vacuum bag as this is likely to be filled with lots of dead flies or bugs. This process will need to be repeated several times a day until the problem is under control.
Solutions to Maggots
In my opinion, you don’t have to do anything if there are few maggots in your compost. But if you don’t like them and want to get rid of them. Then do the following things.
Add Brown Particles
By adding more brown into your compost you can get rid of them. Maggots like to live in humid places. Brown material reduces the moisture and decreases the humidity. It also reduces the available food for the maggots.
When they don’t have enough food to eat, they die in a few days. Low humidity in compost pile decomposes their bodies. And you will have no more maggots.
Add Lime in Compost
For a quick solution add lime to your compost. But there is one danger of adding lime. We add lime where our plants want a little acidic environment. Adding lime will disturb the pH of the final material.
In the end, you will have acidic compost that is only useful to grow plants that like to live a little acidic environment.
But you add citrus food waste in the pile. 1 cup of citrus food per 26 cu ft. of compost.
Don’t allow flies: Maggots in compost are only possible when the adult mother black solider fly lay eggs. Make sure you don’t allow them to enter into the compost pile. Cover the pile with the mesh screen to cover the air holes. Also do not make big holes for the air in the pile.
Compost tumblers faceless maggot problems then the open piles of compost.
Don’t worry about maggots
As I said, maggots are good for the compost. They give you the fine granular compost in a short period of time. The finished product will also contain larvae when you spread compost in your garden. But this larva will die in a few hours due to the fresh air and low humidity.
And those adult flies are good for your chicken and pets. They like to hunt them and eat them. If you don’t have chicken or other pets in your garden. Then still don’t worry because the flies will die when the temperature drops at night.
In cold weather, you will see adult black soldier flies are disappearing day by day.
I hope now it is clear that having few maggots in compost is not a problem. And how you can avoid this problem from day one. What are the steps that you can take to kill them and prevent them from laying eggs in your compost?
For more information on the maggot or on the compost. Feel free to write us. We will reply ASAP.
Stick to the traditional way of making compost and help us to save our land and environment.
Top 5 Composting Problems and How to Fix Them
Composting is a thing of beauty, unless it’s not. Many folks run into problems when composting. It’s okay, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top 5 composting problems people come across and how to fix them.
1. Compost isn’t getting hot. Probably the number one problem with composting is that the pile doesn’t heat up, thus it’s doing a whole lot of nothing. There are several reasons for compost not heating up. First off, the pile might be too small. Secondly, the pile may not contain enough moisture. Turn the pile while adding water. Allow it to sit for a few hours and then check it. If need be, add more water until a handful when squeezed contains beads of water. Turning the pile is necessary to help it decompose as is enough nitrogen in the form of grass clippings or food waste. On the other hand, compost that gets too hot can be problematic too.
2. Compost smells bad. Another issue with composting is that the pile smells, which is never pleasant. The nasty odor rotten eggs may be the result of lack of air due to compacting or excess moisture. Turn the pile to add air and dry out. Also, add wood chips or some other carbon bulk to increase air space. If the pile smells more like ammonia, there is probably too much nitrogen in it. The solution is to add carbon material such as leaves or straw.
3. Compost takes too long to decompose. Let’s face it, we’re not always patient and composting takes time. That said, the process will take much less time if proper maintenance is achieved – this includes managing factors such as proper carbon to nitrogen ratio (browns and greens), surface area, aeration, moisture and temperature. Keeping compost ingredients smaller can help with quicker decomposition too.
4. Compost has bugs. Another complaint is that the pile is attracting bugs, typically flies. Well, assuming you are composting in the great outdoors, for the most part this is normal. To minimize the insect issue, turn the pile from the outside toward the inside so it heats up and keep the pile just moist enough so that beads of water can be seen when you do the squeeze test.
5. Compost attracts animals. Lastly, when rats and other animals are interested in the pile, this can become a problem. This means that you have food sources to close to the surface of the pile. Things like food waste should be buried between several inches of carbon material. Also, don’t add waste such as oil, fat, dairy, bones or meat to the pile. The aroma sends a clear signal to wildlife that dinner is served.