WIRED | Myrna Chiu, August 4, 2017
Art by Diego Patiño
THERE’S THE MARVEL Universe, and then there’s the Larval Universe, and the star of the latter is the black soldier fly. In its squirmy maggot phase, it feasts on our messes—and can in turn be feasted on by farm-raised fish and fowl. Lucky grubs that reach winged adulthood live only a week, spending that time so frantically looking for sex that they don’t eat, sting, or bite. A true superhero, in other words, that sustainability conscious organizations are now eager to exploit.
It Eats Anything
Aiming to reinvent the toilet, sanitation company The BioCycle is using black soldier maggots to convert waste into products like biodiesel. Meanwhile, EnviroFlight feeds leftovers from brewing and ethanol production to larvae, whose poop makes lovely food for prawns.
It Eats Quickly
Composting is great, but stuff left to rot can give off greenhouse gases. Ravenous maggots curtail that process.GrubTubs will pick up food waste from restaurants and cafeterias in Austin, Texas, and sell it, along with larvae, to local chicken farms.
It Tastes Good
They’re more than 40 percent protein and packed with calcium, amino acids, and lipids. Raise your own grub-grade grubs in maggot farms such as the BioPod Plus. Scraps go in, snacks come out.
It Could Save the World
Once farmers can buy cheap insect-based animal feed, they can stop relying on fishmeal and soy. That’s why companies such as AgriProtein are building fly farms around the world. A swarm of locusts might be a plague, but a global infestation of maggots? Blessing.