Yum–Maggots are the answer to feeding a human population that’s heading to nine billion people

From The National Post

A single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans

Washington Post Christopher Ingraham

July 3, 2019
11:59 AM EDT

Last Updated
July 3, 2019
12:46 PM EDT

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It may be hard to understand the appeal of plunging your hand into a pile of writhing maggots. But the sensation is uniquely tactile, not at all unpleasant, as thousands of soft, plump grubs, each the size of a grain of rice, wriggle against your skin, tiny mouthparts gently poking your flesh.

For Lauren Taranow and her employees, it’s just another day at work.

Taranow is the president of Symton BSF, where the larvae of black soldier flies are harvested and sold as food for exotic pets such as lizards, birds, even hedgehogs. Her “maggot farm,” as she styles it, is part of a burgeoning industry, one with the potential to revolutionize the way we feed the world. That’s because of the black soldier fly larva’s remarkable ability to transform nearly any kind of organic waste — cafeteria refuse, manure, even toxic algae — into high-quality protein, all while leaving a smaller carbon footprint than it found.

In one year, a single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans. Such yields, combined with the need to find cheap, reliable protein for a global population projected to jump 30 per cent, to 9.8 billion by 2050, present big opportunity for the black soldier fly. The United Nations, which already warns that animal-rich diets cannot stretch that far long term, is encouraging governments and businesses to turn to insects to fulfill the planet’s protein needs.

People who’ve seen what black soldier fly larvae can do often speak of them in evangelical tones. Jeff Tomberlin, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, said the bug industry could “save lives, stabilize economies, create jobs and protect the environment.”

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing this at some scale throughout the world,” he said.

So why aren’t we?

When the LED lights are flipped on in the fly-breeding room at Evo Conversion Systems, the whir of thousands of tiny wings fills the air as flies careen about their screened-in enclosures in search of a mate. Evo, which was founded by Tomberlin, shares a wall with Symton. The companies are separate but symbiotic: Evo hatches fly larvae and sells them to Symton, which fattens them up on a proprietary grain blend that ensures optimal nutrition for the animals that eventually will consume them.

Read the full article here.

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Jack Miller
July 5, 2019 6:14 am

Well as long as there is a supply of beef, lamb,pork,fish,chicken,horse,kangaroo,venison,shellfish, eggs, and so on in another words REAL FOOD, maggots will be nearly the last on my list of things I would eat.

Cockroach milk would be about last . . .

Reply to  Jack Miller
July 5, 2019 9:42 am

OK … if overpopulation is the prompt for this dietary mandate, then might I suggest that those peoples who are actually ADDING to the population (by spawning litters of children) be the ones chosen to eat maggots. So, the Mexicans, Muslims, dot.Indians, and some Asians can eat maggots. My people who are reproducing at sub-ZPG … can still eat the white mans food. Simple.

Reply to  Kenji
July 6, 2019 8:02 am

How about the people that cane up with this nonsense live on nothing but maggots for a year and put their money where their mouth is.

Reply to  Mike
July 7, 2019 6:45 pm

Sounds like they’d be putting their mouth where their money is, in this case.

J Mac
Reply to  Jack Miller
July 5, 2019 8:45 pm

Eat my share, please. Yes, really! It’s OK – I’m feeling generous….

Reply to  J Mac
July 6, 2019 12:41 am

The UN Secretary General could not be reached for comment as he was on his tri-monthy pilgrimage to an Outback steak house.

July 5, 2019 6:25 am

Hi apologies for this not on topic post, but I would like help to find the reference that refutes the “by 2050 batteries will have undergone a technical revolution – akin the leaps and bounds of the computer world – and so will b able to save the world with their cheap mega-storage capabilities. Many thanks

Reply to  harrowsceptic
July 5, 2019 8:06 am

Well, how do you prove a negative? You can’t. Instead, the burden of proof is on the person asserting that a battery revolution will come by 2050. Until then, it’s just a baseless assumption.

David Lupton
Reply to  harrowsceptic
July 5, 2019 9:26 am

I have seen various of claims that battery technology, photovoltaics, wind turbines, you name it, are going to develop at something akin to Moore’s law and we will have cheap abundant renewable energy in the future. All we have to do is ban fossil fuels now so that big corporations have the incentive to do the necessary research. Or something like that. Most likely wishful thinking.

Reply to  harrowsceptic
July 5, 2019 10:29 am

I do not know if it helps HS, but a commenter (“the man at the back”) on Paul homewood’s site a few days ago drew attention to a recent report from the Manhatten Institute that poured scorn on the idea that something akin to Moore’s law could apply to battery , wind or solar energy:
The link was this:

Some points:
“4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace 5% of global oil demand.
5. Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand “only” 10-fold.

11. Since 1995, total world energy use rose by 50%, an amount equal to adding two entire United States’ worth of demand.
12. For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.
13. Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutes worth of annual U.S. electric demand.
14. To make enough batteries to store two-day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

31. No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33% of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26%.
32. No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60% of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45%.
33. No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500% greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.
34. About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of one pound of hydrocarbons.
35. At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.
36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).”

I cannot vouch for the scientific accuracy of the report but the points are of interest I think.

Don K
Reply to  mikewaite
July 6, 2019 12:31 am

“Moore’s Law” is nothing more than exponential growth. Exponential growth is quite common. Many things grow exponentially (… until they don’t). What would be at issue is the exponent. For Moore’s Law — the component density of integrated circuits doubles every two years (until it doesn’t)– the exponent is around 1.4. That’s very high. e.g. for US population growth, the exponent is currently around 1.006.

How fast are battery storage costs dropping? That seems a bit fuzzy. But there’s no question that they ARE dropping. The first number the all knowing internet gave up to me was 76% in the 7 years from 2012-2019. That’s fairly close to 8% a year compounded. Exponent 1.08. Pretty fast. But clearly not Moore’s Law fast. How much by 2050? 1.08^31 = about 11. So the battery that costs $10000 today MIGHT cost only $920 in 2050. (Or not).

Pretty impressive if you believe it.

Even if we don’t completely believe THAT, it does seem that by the second half of the century, electricity storage costs might be pretty low.

R Shearer
Reply to  harrowsceptic
July 5, 2019 11:05 am

The notion that this is even possible is false. Computing can be miniaturized because all of the processing has to do with signals/information. In the days of relays and vacuum tubes, transistors, etc. these circuits were large and generated a lot of waste heat. Efficiency was readily improved by going to smaller scale lower-power integrated circuits.

In the case of batteries for transportation, actual large-scale physical work is required. Batteries can become more efficient but they still have to provide the energy necessary to move someone’s fat ass from point A to point B, which is a lot more energy intensive that manipulating the flow of electrons.

It’s similar in the case of PV. Sure, films can be improved and made thinner within some limits, but the amount of solar energy that is collected is proportional to a panel’s area, and the size of the wire to transmit this energy still needs to be large as it has to be to handle the current density. In computing, for a given operation, current can be reduced. That’s not the case in doing physical work.

July 5, 2019 6:32 am

Well that’s the first time I felt that “Read the full article here” was an obscene comment.

July 5, 2019 6:39 am

I could tolerate using maggots as a chicken feed supplement, but as food?

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 5, 2019 7:30 am

I could tolerate battery reared chicken as maggot feed, but not as food.

Fried grubs and insects are very tasty if you can get over our cultural aversion to such ideas. I’d rate them above a vegan pizza any day. ( There are very few things which I can not stomach but one is a vegan pizza, the other is the vegan which goes with it. )

A good cut of steak or mutton would go down better on a night out at a restaurant.

Reply to  Greg
July 5, 2019 10:30 am

Hey if God had wanted us all to be vegans he wouldn’t have created McDonalds.

Another Doug
Reply to  Marty
July 5, 2019 2:38 pm

If God hadn’t intended us to eat animals he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Greg
July 9, 2019 1:59 pm

First we had to “save the whales”. Now we’re eating all their fish. Inconsequential.

Don K
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 6, 2019 12:44 am

Having been forced to give up animal protein by persistent gout, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. But I must say that the only “meat” that I really miss is the occasional shrimp salad. Maybe there is something to be said for eating arthropods. Not that maggots would be my first choice among the arthropoda.

I am finding that modern methods of presenting vegetable protein make a future without meat a lot more appealing (to me at least) than it might have been a few decades ago. Maybe the future for an overcrowded planet — if that’s what you folks end up with — is vegetable protein, not bugs.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 6, 2019 3:24 am

exactly pigs n chhoks will eat em, cattle could eat them as a dried meal additive id guess but limited
did you all note the supposed crap rubbish n toxic algal eating maggots…are fed on??/
SPECIAL GRAIN BLENDS…sorta negates a lot of their claims doesnt it?

Irritable Bill
July 5, 2019 6:44 am

Marie Antoinette should of course have said, “Let them eat maggots.” Then the Loony Left wouldn’t have killed her.

Kerry Eubanks
July 5, 2019 6:49 am

RE: “…which fattens them up on a proprietary grain blend…”

Hmmmmmm. Do these folks understand conservation of energy?

Reply to  Kerry Eubanks
July 5, 2019 8:53 am

The need to feed them on grass, like grass fed beef. You can charge a lot more for it, then.

David Lupton
Reply to  Kerry Eubanks
July 5, 2019 9:36 am

My thoughts exactly Kerry. It appears the protein per acre calculation has not been applied terribly consistently. Yes maggots can be fed on stuff that is otherwise waste, but then so can pigs – and cattle for that matter (think palm oil kernel). And it is telling that in this case they are actually grain fed.

Reply to  David Lupton
July 5, 2019 11:52 am

Probably “spent brewer’s grain” used for finishing the black soldier fly larvae. So, they are exploiting a industrial waste product for creating a value added product. The cost of pristine grain otherwise would not make the venture end product financially competitive in regards to protein per dollar.

What makes it “proprietary” is probably the addition of some compounds (vitamins/minerals/oils/aminos) that create a larvae with a standardized nutritional composition more commercially ideal (complete) for it’s target (fish/poultry) feed requirements.

Reply to  gringojay
July 6, 2019 3:29 am

well the cows n chooks would eat the spent brewqers grain and they already DO
so theyre filching good animal food to feed damned maggots
and then of course those breeding areas are artificailly lit heated/cooled for the flies
and ditto next door for the maggots as well.
plus material to build said sheds and the water use which i also bet is pretty high
cows eating pasture just need some peace and vegetation

Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 6, 2019 2:40 pm

Cows and warm blooded creatures require more calories to thrive than bugs do. I have read as much as 10 times more calories to sustain the same biological mass.

Water requirements for insects is much less than for warm blooded creatures. The black soldier fly and their larvae have different water consumption; the larvae are not drinking (like say crickets).

The black soldier fly adult does need some light, but the larvae themselves do not require light. But the human workers do need to see what they are doing.

Unless butchering outdoors livestock and poultry commercialization do require structures (shed). Milking and egg laying commercialization also are usually tied to structures (shed).

July 5, 2019 7:04 am

> “The United Nations, which already warns that animal-rich diets cannot stretch that far long term, is encouraging governments and businesses to turn to insects to fulfill the planet’s protein needs.”

And there’s the lever with which to move the world. Frame the argument as the “animal-rich” vs. the “protien-poor.” No really unexpected just surprising they tip the hand so early.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
July 9, 2019 2:23 pm
July 5, 2019 7:19 am

The workers at those factories are all likely Vegan.

Anyway these are available as ersatz-Burgers in Germany at REWE – the packaging says Insekt Burger, right beside top quality Block House Angus beef burgers. A closer look reads “buffalo worms”.

I’m going to complain to management about worms in the shop freezers!

I think the UN has a termite infestation.

Anyway a Freudian slip :
Evo hatches fly larvae and sells them to Symton, which fattens them up on a proprietary grain blend that ensures optimal nutrition for the animals that eventually will consume them.
So the cat is out of the bag – we are the animals that will feed on this slop. The oligarchy want to cull the herd.

Al Miller
July 5, 2019 7:25 am

Alarmists first! When I see Al Gore and Justin Trudeau and Catherine McKenna chowing down on maggots I’ll believe it.

Reply to  Al Miller
July 5, 2019 9:55 am

Can’t – family cannibalism is taboo.

Reply to  mike
July 6, 2019 3:31 am

+++++++ roflmao thread winner;-)

July 5, 2019 7:28 am

So how soon will our intellectual betters be dining on these at Davos, and all their other Climate Mega-Conferences? The world watches…

July 5, 2019 7:33 am

when someone starts trying to make me eat worms is when I’m a gonna start shooting.

July 5, 2019 7:35 am

“save lives, stabilize economies, create jobs and protect the environment.”

Yes, a little known fact is that a 10 gallon bucket of black soldier flies can save a drowning child !

BTW is it “OK” to call them black soldier flies , or should we prefer soldier flies of colour?

Tractor Gent
Reply to  Greg
July 5, 2019 9:20 am

I was thinking of the marketing – Soylent Black? OK, perhaps not…

July 5, 2019 7:45 am

I have a friend who has a cricket farm and raises millions of crickets for the pet food industry, which in his case is for reptiles, birds and other critters who like this raw protein. There is a huge market for this tech to raise insects for chicken feed, fish meal and even hog feed. Great! Huge markets.

I am not sure there is any need for this to be part of any humans direct diet, since we really have a food surplus at the end of the day. Unless people really want it. I suppose it isn’t really much different than some people liking raw snails, or caviar, sushi or a dozen other foods that aren’t high on my list of things to eat. A protein bar made up of processed insects is probably as healthy as it gets, although not big on my list to eat. Let the market figure it out as long as this doesn’t get pushed down my throat..no pun intended.

July 5, 2019 8:20 am

Actually, we’ll top out at 11 billion, and then decline to around 5 billion, assuming no large natural disasters and such.. The late Hans Rosling has already done the math, and shown his work on youtube…

Steve O
July 5, 2019 8:23 am

The insect protein can be ground into flour and with additional ingredients made into almost anything.

Any greenies who claim that we need to take drastic action to prevent catastrophe, but who hasn’t made insect protein a staple of their diet is a hypocrite. We need to remind them of this on a continual basis.

Lee Franks
July 5, 2019 8:32 am

The inapt and vague comparisons left me cold right away. What are the ‘3000 acres of cattle’ eating? And which cattle? Yearlings or eight year old cows?

Also, aside from a little fertilizer and water, I pretty sure my local farmer is not feeding his soy beans at all.

If maggots are such a good deal, more precise comparisons would be more convincing. Unless maggots are not all that afterall…

Reply to  Lee Franks
July 5, 2019 12:11 pm

Same here.

I had no idea what one acre of maggots was; I am now assuming that it is 43,560 square feet of maggots (at some optimum depth) being fed a special grain.

I know what 130 acres of soybeans is, and the typical associated yield.

3000 acres of cattle must be the number of cattle that some typical & ambiguous 3000 acre area can sustain (likely without the special grain supplement).

Reply to  Lee Franks
July 5, 2019 2:14 pm

Correctomundo. And what is the stocking density of the cattle? I have seen it range from one per acre to one per 100 acres.

Michael Jankowski
July 5, 2019 8:35 am

Imagine the uproar if maggots were being fed to foreigners at our borders…

Steven Mosher
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
July 5, 2019 9:58 am

haha I was thinking the same thing

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
July 6, 2019 3:35 am

cheaper than a wall and more effective

Clyde Spencer
July 5, 2019 8:41 am

The promotional piece cites “cafeteria refuse and manure” as potential feed for the maggots. Where does that come from — the animals raised conventionally? So, how is the maggot protein sustained if we do away with animals as their feed-stock? Soylent Green? Once again, the environmentalist zealots haven’t thought this through. It is a way to eliminate “cafeteria refuse and manure,” but it is probably best used as a protein supplement for farmed animals.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 5, 2019 9:24 am

Clyde, please note that the touted maggots do not eat garbage; they eat a proprietary blend of grains to get useful nutrients. The save-the-world do-gooders miss the obvious unreality of this pie-in-the-sky scheme, once again. Grains require fossil fuels to grow, harvest, process and transport.

Anyway, for you people of a conspiratorial bent: Is just this the would-be world masters’ plan to feed the masses their version of Soylent Green?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 5, 2019 9:54 am

Farms could raise maggots on manure and feed the chickens and pigs. These UN types think too linearly.

Samuel C Cogar
July 5, 2019 8:42 am

People who’ve seen what black soldier fly larvae can do often speak of them in evangelical tones. Jeff Tomberlin, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, said the bug industry could “save lives, stabilize economies, create jobs and protect the environment.”

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing this at some scale throughout the world,” he said.

And the 1st question is, ……. . is Jeff Tomberlin, the professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, and his staff of researchers, ……. all getting their necessary protein by eating those black soldier fly maggots.

Or are Hillary’s “deplorables” the ones that are “earmarked” for eating maggots?

mark from the midwest
July 5, 2019 8:43 am

Totally a projection, they do a wash-rinse-repeat over a small space and then project it up to an acre. Further, it’s not within any process of a normal food chain, i.e., where do they get the nutrients? From a “proprietary grain blend.” I suspect this grain blend uses remnant material from grain elevators, (the stuff that rots on the ground). Subsequently, again, there’s no normal place in the food chain. Sustaining this process at scale could end up being more costly than any process currently in the human food chain.

Wish my dad were still alive, he used to debunk these “insects as food” myths very completely in a few sentences.

July 5, 2019 8:47 am

Didn’t I see this same thing awhile back when there were only 6 billion people, or was that meal worms???

July 5, 2019 9:06 am

You could make a very uncomfortable horror movie about a mass breakout from this type of farm. Cheers –

Reply to  agimarc
July 5, 2019 12:16 pm

Global Worming is a very real and existential threat to our civilization.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  DonM
July 5, 2019 1:49 pm


July 5, 2019 9:10 am

Count me in if they taste like prawns or chicken and can be made into a nondescript patty.

July 5, 2019 9:13 am

An innovative dish comes to mind:

maggot meat loaf with roach gravy.

After you’re done eating it, wash your dishes in a nearby stream, placing them carefully into the golden sunshine to dry.

It’s so natural. You’ll feel really good about doing this.

HD Hoese
July 5, 2019 9:20 am

From the link
“More than 90 per cent of those fisheries are either fully exploited or overfished, meaning that as the world’s population grows, there will be more demand for alternative protein sources.”

More than 90 per cent of the studies on those fisheries are flawed.

Neither of these statements have much precision, and it is tiring to read all these armchair (better term needed for those pontificating outside of their knowledge) “experts” use a real or imagined crisis to justify their existence. Are students to be scientists now required to take a course in advertising? If so replace it with thermodynamics.

More than 90 per cent of the ocean is nutrient limited. Doesn’t seem possible with all these amazing views of copious amounts of life shown on TV of coral reefs, schools of porpoise, sharks, etc.

Reply to  HD Hoese
July 5, 2019 11:02 am

Cerca 1960’s, there was a proposal to harvest “trash” fish, dry and grind them whole into “fish flower.” At the time it was also believed that the oceans had an inexhaustible supply of fish. Can’t find a link.

Bruce Cobb
July 5, 2019 9:22 am

Hey, don’t knock them until you’ve – BARF! tried them.

July 5, 2019 9:29 am

‘People who’ve seen what black soldier fly larvae can do often speak of them in evangelical tones.” Well, gee whiz, another religion is in the offing with this ridiculous business.

I buy dried mealworms and put them out for the birds that come to my feeding station. They pig out on them, all varieties of birds love those things. They’d probably explode into song over dried fly larvae, because BIRDS EAT BUGS!!!! There’s a reason hooman eat meat and fish, and birds eat bugs. If that ever sinks in with these latter-day ecohippies, someone please be kind enough to let me know. Frankly, I wouldn’t touch that stuff, period, not if the last thing I had for a meal was a french fry two weeks ago. I’d be hunting birds for food.

There’s one other thing here: black soldier flies aren’t very big. Flies can easily compress themselves to go through cracks and small openings to get where they want to go. I see no benefit in breeding an acre’s worth of them, since the probability of their escaping into the wild is high and could spell a real disaster. And no one wants flies buzzing around his head – ever.

Reply to  Sara
July 5, 2019 11:40 am

Hi Sara, – The adult black soldier fly do not eat/bite/chew – just try to mate. Egg laying is not done indoors.

If they are in an enclosed area then the adults will obviously have to fly around any human in that enclosure. But the adults will not land on the food the human has exposed (OK, might lay eggs overhead for hatchlings to passively fall into if food left out for them); nor will they try to land on the human in the enclosure for that matter.

Black soldier fly adults do not enter homes and when these are about in the countryside the common house fly stays away from entering there. Maybe (?) it has something to do with the sound frequency black soldier flies generate that house flies react to with aversion – the black soldier fly can’t bite them.

As for size: it is their larvae which has been commercialized for use and not the adult flies. The larvae are content to stay where they’ve been supplied food until end of their larval life cycle, then they stop eating and will attempt to find suitable pupation site.

Reply to  Sara
July 5, 2019 5:44 pm

Sara – Black Soldier Flies are relatively large flies, about 2/3rds of an inch long, more easy to contain than House Flies or the like (but they are also very annoying when they get into your home). The large size allows them to outcompete smaller flies for resources. The larvae breed in rotting vegetation (you can commonly find them or a related species around compost bins, so they are already part of the wild). The mature grubs crawl out of the muck to pupate and that is how the commercial producers harvest them – as full grown larvae that have purged their guts in preparation for pupation. Apparently the mature grubs are edible, but commercial production is not aimed at the human dinner table (although there are kits for growing them at home).

Some insects are acceptable and even highly desired foods in many cultures, especially Asian and African, but pretty much everywhere in the world some insects are considered good tucker except in the West. Usually the insects are relatively large or occur in great numbers that are easily collected. We eat honey, which is nectar that has been regurgitated by honeybees, and most have no problem with prawns, shrimp, crayfish and the like – which are basically aquatic grasshoppers – so the Western bias against insects as food is a little strange.

I sincerely doubt that Black Soldier Fly production could be scaled up to produce enough protein to replace our preferred animal sources. At the moment they are mainly used to feed exotic pets, poultry and fish. It is sort of neat that you can turn manure and rotting vegetation into chicken feed, presumably economically, but breaking down all that vegetation produces a lot of carbon dioxide. I wonder why the article didn’t mention that?

Reply to  DaveW
July 6, 2019 3:43 am

you can use earthworms to process plant material nad manure and theirm castings, liquids from bedding and the worms are all useable for animal feed or for growijng more food for humans.
reckon that gets my nod over this idiotic idea

Reply to  ozspeaksup
July 6, 2019 2:30 pm

Black soldier fly larvae also are able to process manure and waste plant material as well as waste non-human flesh. You can internet search out various research on these larvae utilizing different kinds of manure. You can also internet search out various research on these larvae as an ingredient for different kinds of non-human feed. Earthworm rearing and black soldier fly larvae are different set-ups.

Dave Yaussy
July 5, 2019 9:49 am

Not sure I understand. The maggots can be fed on refuse but are being fed grain. If the maggots are being raised to feed other animals, why not feed the animals the grain directly? Most animals can synthesize proteins from grains.

July 5, 2019 10:06 am

But, maggot rights matter.

David S
July 5, 2019 10:07 am

Between abundant rainfall and high CO2 my lawn is growing like crazy. Now if we could just find a type of grass that’s edible for humans we could feed lots of people. And I would prefer that over maggot burgers.

michael hart
July 5, 2019 10:09 am

“It may be hard to understand the appeal of plunging your hand into a pile of writhing maggots. But the sensation is uniquely tactile, not at all unpleasant, as thousands of soft, plump grubs, each the size of a grain of rice, wriggle against your skin, tiny mouthparts gently poking your flesh.”

In the dark corners of Youtube you will probably find people doing something rather more advanced than that…

Whatever, why do these people have such an obsession with eating insects for protein? Yeast and many plants can produce proteins more efficiently and rather more pleasant to eat, in my opinion.

James in Perth
July 5, 2019 10:28 am

Easily the funniest comments ever on a WUWT post. Thanks for sharing this “interesting” story!!

July 5, 2019 10:28 am

Isolate the proteins, and remove the slime. It might be more interesting. Now find some yummy fat. Moths? My cats have always enjoyed a fat moth every now and then. Gruburgers? Fry-em up! Give me enough beer and I might have a go. Toss up whether the hurling that follows is due to the gruburger or the quantity of beer required to make me stupid enough to eat the gruburger.

July 5, 2019 10:33 am

Ha! So typical: A radical fix to a problem that is already well on the way to being fixed.

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/hunger-and-undernourishment

July 5, 2019 10:34 am

Sorry guys! I just ain’t hungry enough yet!

Russell Mitchell
July 5, 2019 11:05 am

Texan here: we’ll deep fry d–n near anything. And we like protein. It’s not bacon OR burgers, it’s bacon burgers.

I’m wondering what these suckers are like pan-fried with ham and eggs and some toast.

Silly marketers. Don’t try to see gross stuff to people on climate grounds. Find some good recipes and sell it THAT way.

July 5, 2019 11:12 am

It has to be asked .. so when will we reach peak maggot?

Walter Sobchak
July 5, 2019 11:21 am

Population will not hit 11 billion. It may not get to 9.

“Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline” (2019) by Darrell Bricker & John Ibbitson

For half a century, statisticians, pundits, and politicians have warned that a burgeoning population will soon overwhelm the earth’s resources. But a growing number of experts are sounding a different alarm. Rather than continuing to increase exponentially, they argue, the global population is headed for a steep decline—and in many countries, that decline has already begun.

July 5, 2019 11:55 am

Sounds more promising than the Beyond Meat IPO.

Ben Vorlich
July 5, 2019 12:07 pm

As maggots areiving creatures presumably vega s and vegetarians can’t eat maggot derived protein?

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
July 9, 2019 2:52 pm

Grinded maggots are no longer living creatures so vega s and vegetarians could eat maggot derived protein.

OTOH vegans always need dietary supplements, with or without maggots.

July 5, 2019 12:12 pm

“A single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans”

Useless fantastic claims that make gross assumptions while failing to fill in critical details.
A) They are raising their fly larvae indoors, year round.
* i) Their comparison to soybeans uses some unknown yield per acre for a season’s crop.
* ii) No mention is made of feed quality, feed return ratios, costs of maintaining indoor environment.
* iii) Chickens, turkeys, aquaculture and as others have mentioned, hogs and pigs can be raised under controlled indoor environments and produce high levels of a much tastier protein. A number of meat chickens are harvested at 4 to 6 weeks on an amazing feed to meat conversion ratio.
* iii) Soybean yields are up to 65 bushels of soybeans per acre. That is substantial in anyone’s book.

What it comes down to is the claimant is making apples to oranges comparisons while using gross assumptions.
An absurd method to making a claim that is extremely similar to an off-topic comment about miracle batteries.
i.e. some yahoo has fantasized what his little room full of flies could accomplish; if only had acres of well maintained buildings filled with flies… Another pipe-dream about getting rich selling a product for which there is little demand beyond feeding lizards and whatnot.

July 5, 2019 1:23 pm

Modern fishing/agriculture can feed the projected population. The issues are distribution and storage, not to mention inept and/or hostile governments. Feed the bugs to the bug-eaters, not me.

Robert of Ottawa
July 5, 2019 1:27 pm

Are there enough politicians and bureaucrats to go round?

July 5, 2019 1:35 pm

There are stories of mutinies being caused by sailors being forced to eat maggot-infested meat. Apparently those sailors didn’t know how nutritious those maggots were.


Clyde Spencer
July 5, 2019 1:42 pm

” A 2011 U.N. report detailed how rotting food emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accounting for about seven per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

The flies do not sequester the CO2 long term. They only act as a delay. The CO2 is released when the organism eating the maggots dies, or when the original consumer is eaten by a human that dies.

July 5, 2019 5:04 pm

I suggest that if you feed these maggots plant protein, you will get LESS animal protein, not more.

Why? Read on…

And frankly, for some reason I would prefer to eat a soy-burger vs. a maggot-burger.

I suggest that maggots are more suitable food for the extreme left – keeps it in the family.


The law of conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation states that for any system closed to all transfers of matter and energy, the mass of the system must remain constant over time, as system’s mass cannot change, so quantity can neither be added nor be removed. Hence, the quantity of mass is conserved over time.

The law implies that mass can neither be created nor destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space, or the entities associated with it may be changed in form. For example, in chemical reactions, the mass of the chemical components before the reaction is equal to the mass of the components after the reaction. Thus, during any chemical reaction and low-energy thermodynamic processes in an isolated system, the total mass of the reactants, or starting materials, must be equal to the mass of the products.

The concept of mass conservation is widely used in many fields such as chemistry, mechanics, and fluid dynamics. Historically, mass conservation was demonstrated in chemical reactions independently by Mikhail Lomonosov and later rediscovered by Antoine Lavoisier in the late 18th century. The formulation of this law was of crucial importance in the progress from alchemy to the modern natural science of chemistry.

The conservation of mass only holds approximately and is considered part of a series of assumptions coming from classical mechanics. The law has to be modified to comply with the laws of quantum mechanics and special relativity under the principle of mass-energy equivalence, which states that energyand mass form one conserved quantity. For very energetic systems the conservation of mass-only is shown not to hold, as is the case in nuclear reactions and particle-antiparticle annihilation in particle physics.

Mass is also not generally conserved in open systems. Such is the case when various forms of energy and matter are allowed into, or out of, the system. However, unless radioactivity or nuclear reactions are involved, the amount of energy escaping (or entering) such systems as heat, mechanical work, or electromagnetic radiation is usually too small to be measured as a decrease (or increase) in the mass of the system.

For systems where large gravitational fields are involved, general relativity has to be taken into account, where mass-energy conservation becomes a more complex concept, subject to different definitions, and neither mass nor energy is as strictly and simply conserved as is the case in special relativity.


The three laws of thermodynamics define physical quantities (temperature, energy, and entropy) that characterize thermodynamic systems at thermal equilibrium. The laws describe how these quantities behave under various circumstances, and preclude the possibility of certain phenomena (such as perpetual motion).

The three laws of thermodynamics are:[1][2][3][4][5]

First law of thermodynamics: When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, the system’s internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind (machines that produce work with no energy input) are impossible.

Second law of thermodynamics: In a natural thermodynamic process, the sum of the entropies of the interacting thermodynamic systems increases. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind (machines that spontaneously convert thermal energy into mechanical work) are impossible.

Third law of thermodynamics: The entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero.[2] With the exception of non-crystalline solids (glasses) the entropy of a system at absolute zero is typically close to zero.

In addition, there is conventionally added a “zeroth law”, which defines thermal equilibrium:

Zeroth law of thermodynamics: If two systems are each in thermal equilibrium with a third system, they are in thermal equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the concept of temperature.

There have been suggestions of additional laws, but none of them achieve the generality of the four accepted laws, and they are not mentioned in standard textbooks.[1][2][3][4][6][7]

The laws of thermodynamics are important fundamental laws in physics and they are applicable in other natural sciences.

July 5, 2019 6:33 pm

Addressing one point only: Larvae are animals, so in a sense they do create animal protein. As larvae grow through their succession on stages their total protein content usually increases; although I believe not immediately pre-pupation.

July 6, 2019 12:12 am

Second law of thermodynamics: In a natural thermodynamic process, the sum of the entropies of the interacting thermodynamic systems increases.

The Second Law also only applies to isolated systems. A closed system may lose heat and by extension, entropy. If a closed system had to obey the Second Law, then it could never cool down. When a warmer system transfers heat to a cooler system (both closed systems), the entropy lost by the warmer system is less than the entropy gained by the cooler system. The combination of the two closed systems could define an isolated system–in which case the total entropy must increase if they aren’t in equilibrium.


July 5, 2019 5:05 pm

Ahh, no. Cheap energy production and modern agriculture are the answer.

July 5, 2019 5:30 pm

Many years ago, possibly the 1970 tees, there was a powder produced by
some similar process, either plant or insect based, which the UN said was to
be distributed to the starving of I think Africa, and which added to what was
in the cooking pot took on the flavour of that food.

Sounds good, so did it solve e the problem.

Well the population of the so called undeveloped world has increased by a considerable amount, so yes it did work. Snag was they did not also supply a contraceptive along with it.

The nasty truth is that if they do not die, they live and they breed.


Power Grab
Reply to  Michael
July 5, 2019 10:29 pm

While preparing a college paper in the early 1970s, I did some research into alternative ways to “feed the world.” One of the things I retained from my readings was that soy was considered “poverty food” by the undeveloped part of the world. It tasted nasty and they refused to eat it when the West sent it to poverty-stricken people. In ancient China, soy was valued for its function as a nitrogen fixer (a/k/a “green manure”). I understand that Buddhist monks used it to reduce their natural urges (if you know what I mean–I’m not sure what words I am allowed to use here). Fermented soy products were commonly used as condiments.

Western food manufacturers figured out that they would have to work on making it taste good before it could be used for a significant food source–even for poverty-stricken people.

Since then, of course, they have done lots of work to make soy palatable. They also frame it as a “health food” so people will pay more for it and tolerate the weird things it does to their body. The estrogen-like substances it contains are touted as a “feature” instead of a “bug”. However, it retains its goitrogenic tendency. I have read of and seen people make themselves clinically hypothyroid by using it to excess.

I know this thread is about using insects/worms for human feed, but I saw mention of soy and wanted to put my oar in. I could go on about how most soy is GMO and Roundup-ready (compatible for use with Glyphosate), which threatens the health of our microbiome, but I’ll stop now.

Reply to  Power Grab
July 6, 2019 12:45 am

Western food manufacturers figured out that they would have to work on making it taste good before it could be used for a significant food source–even for poverty-stricken people.


Please explain!

This is a master-class in marketing … “I can’t believe it’s not cheese!”

I can’t believe it’s food.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Michael
July 9, 2019 3:36 pm

MJE, they also octroyd contraception in the third world – in the 70s one could read / hear about women dying on Copper poisoning contraceptive spirals implanted without explanation during “health precautionary examinations.”

And in situ for years in the females.

Tired Old Nurse
July 5, 2019 5:38 pm

Has PETA been alerted?

lee Riffee
July 5, 2019 5:50 pm

I’ve eaten a few bugs in my lifetime, some intentionally and some by accident. This of course not counting the allowable levels of insects and insect parts that the US government says are OK to be found in various processed food products.
That said, I wouldn’t have any issue with these maggots being used for animal feed, even for pet foods (as the ancestors of dogs and cats surely ate bugs and many cats and dogs still do eat bugs). They might also be OK as snack foods (thought I doubt they will ever be as commonly found as potato chips!). However,bugs IMO are no replacement for most main meal meats. Firing up the grill to cook some maggot burgers just isn’t the same as cooking burgers of beef or other ground animal meat.

July 5, 2019 6:34 pm

There are some people trying to unravel the human genome to cure diseases.

There are some people trying to expand our horizons to other worlds, to seek resources in the outer solar system.

And there are some people trying to get other people to eat bugs.

One of these goals I do not take seriously.

July 5, 2019 7:09 pm

If the productivity levels for convertong “garbage or organic waste into maggot protein” that are reported here are correct, there will be little demand for corn and soy as feedstock for cattle and poultry. Drying maggots and feeding them to unsuspecting and uncaring beef, pork, chicken, and fish will unleash enormous amounts of land resources for other purposes. Like cultivating trees by the trillions to build billions of houses.

Just 2 billion acres of badlands converted to maggot cultivation pits should be able to support a global population of 50 Billion (steak and poultry eating) people easily.

We’d still need a source of organic nitrogen at the chemical base of even this food chain. Putting a few thousand MSR nuclear plants into use around the badlands should be able to produce the high temperature and pressure Haber process for ammonia production.

The things 50 billion people need to get by with are getting cheaper all the time.

We will never run out of resources if people are allowed to remain free.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  DocSiders
July 9, 2019 3:14 pm

“Drying maggots and feeding them to unsuspecting and uncaring beef, pork, chicken, and fish will unleash enormous amounts of land resources for other purposes. Like cultivating trees by the trillions to build billions of houses”

doesn’t work with the above comment about

The law of conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation.

Patrick MJD
July 5, 2019 9:21 pm

My wife came back from Africa a few months ago with a local delicacy (How she got through border control here in Australia I do not know) called the Mopane worm caterpillar and that is exactly what it looks like too. About inch and a half long, big black head and body. Initially, I refused to eat it but caved in to pressure from the the wife who said it was really nice. It tasted like a bit of dry wood. When I asked my wife to try some kangaroo, she refused saying it was disgusting (Without having ever tried it). Have no idea what it’s nutritional value is, but I prefer beef, lamb, goat, pork, fish, roo etc etc…

Reply to  Patrick MJD
July 6, 2019 12:48 am

Oh dear, Patrick … she’s probably still laughing about that one mate.

Add crocodiles. There’s a lot to be said for a revenge-BBQ.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  WXcycles
July 6, 2019 5:04 am

I tried Roo burgers in secret on the kids (Hers. I like it for cholesterol reason, taste is well…blah), and they liked it. Just prefer beef. Too many MacChunders Big (Now slightly smaller, same price tho) Macs.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Patrick MJD
July 9, 2019 3:41 pm
July 6, 2019 3:36 am

The answer to this non-question of food supply is more efficient use of the food already produced: we waste half the food now produced, ie- we produce enough to feed 14 B already. Food supply is not the shortest stave in the carrying capacity barrel.

July 6, 2019 9:05 am

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing this at some scale throughout the world”

I don’t think this is the way to sell socialism. So keep it up.

Martin Lewitt
July 6, 2019 5:56 pm

How are these grubs producing more protein than they are being fed? Are they nitrogen fixing grubs? If they were just efficient at converting plant protein to “animal protein”, how is the comparison to soybeans relevant? The acreage yield of the grubs should include the acreage of the feed being fed to them.

Johann Wundersamer
July 9, 2019 1:44 pm

From top of the food pyramid back to insectivores.

After all – that’s the 21st century.

Johann Wundersamer
July 9, 2019 2:14 pm

French Airlines losing value after Macron announced a CO2 tax:


Maybe there’s a market in France for cheap insect meals.

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