Tinder, Amanda C (2016-05). Bioconversion of Sorghum and Cowpea by Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) Larvae for Alternate Protein Production. Master's Thesis.
Black soldier flies, Hermetia illucens (L.) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), typically feed on decaying organic matter but have been explored as a possible means of alternate protein production, either for food for humans directly or as feed for animals that are raised for human food. If cultivation of these animals is to become as widespread and efficient as traditional livestock, processes for production of these and other insects must be refined. In this study, black soldier fly larvae were fed six different diets including the Gainesville diet (control), and five different mixtures of sorghum and cowpea. Effects on life history traits of the black soldier fly and nutritional content of prepupae were observed. Black soldier flies were able to successfully complete larval development on all tested diets. There were subtle but discernable differences in development rates based on diet, particularly the diets containing a higher percentage of sorghum. In general, larvae reared on the sorghum diets, which were lower in protein, developed slower (3-9 days longer from hatching to prepupal stage) than those on the cowpea diets, which were higher in protein. Diet treatment did not consistently influence size (weight or length) of prepupae. Diets did not influence lipid content in prepupae. Higher protein diets translated to higher protein content of prepupae in both trials. Lower protein diets resulted in higher gross energy content of prepupae in both trials. However, in addition to protein, lipid, vitamins, and minerals also differed between diet treatments. This study provides further evidence of the viability of black soldier flies for protein production.