Erbland, P., A. Alyokhin, and M. Peterson. 2021. An automated incubator for rearing black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens). Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 64: 1989-1997.

Biological conversion of agricultural wastes into animal feed ingredients using larvae of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is a promising technology that improves the sustainability of agriculture. We designed and tested a prototype automated incubation system for producing black soldier fly larvae. The system consisted of six 50 L plastic bins enclosed on a ventilated metal rack (178 cm high, 66 cm wide). Water was supplied to maintain a moisture level of about 60% in each bin via soaker hoses connected to sensor-activated solenoid valves. The system was successful in maintaining moisture and temperature suitable for larval development and for growing larvae to harvestable size with minimal labor and energy consumption. Biological activity in the bins generated a considerable amount of metabolic heat, most of which
was trapped in the substrate in each bin. This heat may be valuable for rearing black soldier fly larvae in areas with cool climates because this species has low tolerance of cold temperatures but challenging in areas with warm climates.