The Q&A Archives: Bugs In Compost

Question: I recently discovered some kind of large brown larvae feeding on the fruit in my compost bin. Alarmed they might be some form of maggot I treated the bin with BT. It semmed to kill them. Was that appropriate? I have been very careful to only compost organic matter but I did add soil.
Can you tell me what they could be?

Answer: It's not unusual for maggots or grubs to feast on remnants in the compost pile. If you think about it, that's just one of the ways things decompose. These critters could have come from plant debris with eggs (or grubs) attached when it was tossed into the pile, or the eggs may have been laid in the pile. If the latter is the case, it indicates your pile isn't warm enough and will probably cook better if it's turned a little more often, or if you get a better balance of nitrogen and carbon materials. A working compost pile will heat up enough to deter critters from laying eggs, and any eggs laid in the cooler parts of the pile will be destroyed when the material is turned. Bt is effective against worms and caterpillars and is harmless to humans.

To avoid future problems, turn your compost more frequently and bury fruit and other attractive debris deep in the center of the pile.

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