Maggots are the larval form of a fly, and they play an important role in the composting process.
By eating decomposing organic matter, maggots help to break down the material into usable compost. Without maggots, it would take much longer for compost to form.
But why are they in your compost bin and are there ways to get rid of them?
What to Expect? Yes, you can get rid of maggots from your compost bin, even though you’ve accidentally created the perfect spot for them to thrive.
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Where Do the Maggots Come From?
The reason you have maggots in your compost is because of the food scraps and decaying matter you have in your bin.
Maggots are the larvae of flies. Flies are attracted to decomposing organic matter, such as food scraps in a compost bin.
When they land on this material, they lay eggs that hatch into maggots.
If you think maggots showed up overnight, you’re probably right. Each adult female Black Soldier Fly will lay as few as 200 eggs at a time, and up to almost 700 eggs at a time.
They hatch within 4 days, and towards day 20 they will have reached the adult phase again.
The most common type of maggots are Black Soldier Fly Larvae. You can identify these maggots by how fat they are, and the light white, grey, or yellow color they show.
If you look closely (not that you’d want to), you can see the tiny dark spikes all over the maggot.
Are Maggots Beneficial
If you’re fine with having these creepy crawlies in your compost bin, they are actually very beneficial to have around.
Maggots play a big role in the decomposition process. They help to break down the organic matter in your compost bin into a usable form of compost.
Maggots also consume bacteria and fungi. This can help to prevent diseases from spreading in your compost bin.
Black Soldier Fly maggots are also great meals for birds.
If you like having colorful birds in your backyard, collect the maggots using gloves and put them in a shallow bin in your backyard.
Did You Know? These maggots are extremely high in protein and they make an excellent meal for all types of birds, including chickens if you ever decide to raise chickens.
How to Get Rid of Maggots
If you don’t want to share your compost with maggots, don’t fret.
There are easy ways to get rid of them.
Check What You Put in the Bin
What you add to your compost bin has a huge impact on whether or not you get maggots in your bin.
There are some things you should add to your compost bins and some things you shouldn’t.
You should add:
- fruit and vegetable scraps
- tea bags
- coffee grounds and filters
- lawn compost including leaves and small twigs
- and manure from grain and grass-fed animals
Be careful not to add too many ‘greens’ to your compost bin, and if you do, balance it out with more ‘browns’.
For Example – If you add a lot of lettuce or cabbage, add an equal amount of coffee grounds, dead leaves, or even dirt to balance out the bacteria from the lettuce.
Greens also add a lot of moisture to the compost, which helps create a more hospitable space for the maggots to live.
The coffee grounds, leaves, and dirt help to absorb some of that moisture and make your compost bin less hospitable.
You should never add:
- any dairy or meat
- pet waste from dogs or cats
- or diseased plants
These things break down because the bacteria grow mold and the mold eats away at these products.
These items turn rancid when they begin to break down, and this smell is what flies are attracted to in the first place.
Increase the Acidity
Another way to get rid of the maggots is to make their new home inhospitable.
There are many different things you can add to your compost bin to increase the acidity, including citrus scraps, pine needles, or limestone if it comes to that.
Use one cup of lime for every 25 cubic feet of compost and make sure you give it a good stir.
Changing the acidity of compost is a touchy subject amongst gardeners.
If you plan on using this compost in your garden, increasing the acidity could have adverse effects on the plants you are trying to feed.
Line Your Compost Bin
Before you go out and plug all the holes in your compost bin, don’t!
Your compost needs those holes to breathe and let fresh air flow through the compost to keep bacteria from growing.
Instead – Cover the holes with a fine mesh. You can add this before you fill your compost bin for the first time, or you can add mesh to the outside of your compost bin after it is already full.
The fine mesh will still allow airflow, but flies and other bugs won’t be able to get through the holes anymore.
Maggots can be a big nuisance, but they are also an important part of the ecosystem.
While they are beneficial, not everyone likes knowing they have maggots in their backyard.
If you have maggots and want to get rid of them, there are several methods you can try.
Try not to change the pH of the compost if you are planning on using it for gardening or you could kill your plants, and killing your plants over a few little bugs isn’t worth it!