Most people shudder when maggots show up in their compost bin or compost pile. But maggots are actually helpful and yucky at the same time. They help break down food waste into compost, which can be used to fertilize gardens and lawns.
Maggot larvae don’t bite humans, but they do emit a foul smell as they feed on decaying matter such as fruits and vegetables. So remember: maggots may be gross but they’re good for your garden.
What Kind of Maggots Are These?
Maggots are the larvae of flies. They can be white, yellow, or black, and they usually measure about a quarter-inch long.
Maggots feed on decaying food matter such as fruit and vegetables, which is why you sometimes find them in compost piles and bins.
Maggots found in rotting vegetables that have been stored outside are not necessarily a sign of infestation by insects. Rather, they could be the larvae of compost-dwelling soldier flies or other decaying vegetable pests.
The tiny, gray-white larvae of the black soldier fly (bsf larvae) are segmented and very active. They become a dark brown color as they mature. They have a torpedo-shaped body with tough skin.
The head of the larvae is small and narrower than the rest of the body, and it has no legs or other features except hairs and spines. The rear end of the creature is blunt, with breathing pores (spiracles).
Causes of Maggots in Compost
Too much food waste in your compost and not enough brown material can create the perfect breeding ground for maggots.
You can prevent this by adding more brown compostable materials such as dry leaves, dry grass, straw, or wood chips to your pile or bin.
If you see a lot of maggots in your compost, it’s likely that there is an abundance of flies in the area. This could be due to improper garbage disposal practices, rotting meat near the compost pile, or other factors.
Try eliminating any potential food sources for the flies and add some composting insecticides like BTI (bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to your compost to reduce larvae.
Benefits of Maggots in Compost
Maggots are one of the best ways to break down organic matter into compost. They consume dead skin cells, hair, and other wastes while leaving behind beneficial bacteria.
They also help aerate compost piles and bins, which makes the composting process more efficient.
Maggots are an important part of the composting process and should not be eliminated unless they become a major nuisance. In most cases, they can be left to do their job while you continue to add compostable materials to your compost bin.
What Do You Do if You Have Maggots in Your Compost?
Maggots are compost helpers, so don’t be grossed out if you see them in your bin or compost pile. They won’t hurt you and actually help composting. Maggots are larvae of flies that eat decaying fruits and vegetables like compost piles, so remember: they’re yucky but good for your garden!