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good bug/bad bug in compost?

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good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  Miss Erica on 7/20/2012, 8:21 pm

This is the first time I have made my own compost. I have noticed a SIGNIFICANT number of bugs in the compost over the last few weeks. It is an approximately 3' diameter wire bin that has been cooking for the last 3 months or so. I have filled it completely (about 3' tall) about 4x times with lawn clippings and brown leaves and thrown all my random kitchen produce scraps/coffee grounds in there. It has "cooked down" to be less than an foot deep. It is pretty darn hot/rainy here (Guam) so it cooks pretty quickly. However- there is still a decent amount of "recognizable" stuff in there - so I know it isn't done yet.

When I turn it - I have discovered a TON of grub/maggot looking buggies in there. Dozens and dozens and dozens... The freshly turned areas are teeming with them when I turn it. They are fairly small - maybe half an inch long and brownish in color. There are also a couple of MUCH larger grubs - they are white and approx the size of my thumb. Anyone recognize them? I know earthworms in compost is good b/c they help break it down - but what about these guys? A friend here had issues with some kinda grub eating the plants from the roots up - so I am a little nervous about using this compost in the garden. I'm turning it once every week or two... should I be turning it more/less?

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  camprn on 7/20/2012, 8:45 pm

Some type of fly larvae, and your compost looks sopping wet. If you can let it dry out a bit, keep turning it, that may make it less hospitable to the flies. Once they move on to the next part of the lifecycle, the maggots will be gone. Have you contacted the university there? They may be able to offer you more solid advice and ID. Good luck!

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  floyd1440 on 7/20/2012, 8:47 pm

This is my first year composting and also have some bugs in my pile, it seems to be progressing like yours as it has reduced but still some clumps.

Are the bugs silver in color and do they roll up into a ball if you try to pick them up? From what I have read bugs help break down material, but I could be wrong..

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  camprn on 7/20/2012, 9:11 pm

@floyd1440 wrote: From what I have read bugs help break down material.
Yup! Very Happy bugs are good!

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  walshevak on 7/20/2012, 9:15 pm

Rent a local chicken. Razz I would say those are grubs and will become some sort of bug/beetle/flying creature. I also would be afraid to use the compost in my garden until the creatures were gone. A friend in the Philippine lost his entire garden to grubs/maggots in the soil eating the roots. He gave up, but he didn't have MM, only ammended local soil.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  Pollinator on 7/20/2012, 9:23 pm

@Miss Erica wrote:
When I turn it - I have discovered a TON of grub/maggot looking buggies in there. Dozens and dozens and dozens... The freshly turned areas are teeming with them when I turn it. They are fairly small - maybe half an inch long and brownish in color.

These aren't pests; they are helpers - in breaking down your veggie scraps into compost. They are soldier fly larvae. They are a hot weather phenomenon. I've never seen them in the winter, even though the compost pile may be warm.

They make wonderful bream bait - you might want to go into the bait business. I sometimes give my chickens a spadeful of them for protein - they love them. And the chicken droppings go back into the compost pile - how's that for recycling!

But most of all, I let them do their thing. It's the main reason why compost is made so much faster in warm weather.


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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  Miss Erica on 7/20/2012, 9:36 pm

a friend on FB said that the white one looked like a Japanese Beetle Larva... what do you think about that? I know those are really bad news. My only thought is that when I looked up the JB - it said the adult stage were only about 1/2 inch large - but these white guys are much larger than that.

As far as the compost being too wet... ??? How do you control that? Should I put a tarp or something over it to protect it from the rain?

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  walshevak on 7/21/2012, 6:53 pm

@Miss Erica wrote:a friend on FB said that the white one looked like a Japanese Beetle Larva... what do you think about that? I know those are really bad news. My only thought is that when I looked up the JB - it said the adult stage were only about 1/2 inch large - but these white guys are much larger than that.

As far as the compost being too wet... ??? How do you control that? Should I put a tarp or something over it to protect it from the rain?

The grub looks like a Japanese beetle grub to me too. As to the rain, since I know about the rainy season in your area of the world, yes a tarp might be a good idea. You may keep a larger volume of compost that way as well.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  floyd1440 on 7/21/2012, 7:56 pm

I have bugs in my compost but after touvhing them they ball up and from this past spring I learned they are "pill" bugs.

Unfortunately I did not have any homemade compost so I had to buy some for my Mel's mix and some had some bugs in it. After my beans had sprouted I noticed these bugs would surface after it rained and they were numerous. Then they began to eat my plants at the base destroying what I had planted. Fortunately I got some DE and applied it and they were dead in 24-48 hours; but I lost a lot of what I had started inside during the winter.

I love them in my compost bin but not welcome in my garden.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  southern gardener on 7/21/2012, 8:24 pm

@floyd1440 wrote:I have bugs in my compost but after touvhing them they ball up and from this past spring I learned they are "pill" bugs.

Unfortunately I did not have any homemade compost so I had to buy some for my Mel's mix and some had some bugs in it. After my beans had sprouted I noticed these bugs would surface after it rained and they were numerous. Then they began to eat my plants at the base destroying what I had planted. Fortunately I got some DE and applied it and they were dead in 24-48 hours; but I lost a lot of what I had started inside during the winter.

I love them in my compost bin but not welcome in my garden.

i agree Floyd! They mow down new seedlings like little lumberjacks! It's so discouraging to come out and find all the tops of your plants laying next to a "stub". There is a product called Sluggo Plus. I think it's organic, but I've been using it with pretty good results. It's for slugs, snails, earwigs and sowbugs. I'm finding you have to keep reapplying it tho, but supposedly, it breaks down into a fertilizer or something? Not positive, but that's what I'm remembering.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  floyd1440 on 7/21/2012, 8:45 pm

@Southern gardener

I too was crushed when I saw some many of my freshly transplanted chewed up beyong repair. The DE is organic and it was very effective and I check the garden constantly to see if any more show up It concerns me they are also in a compost pile that is realitavely close but to date I have not seen any and have been checking will this new rain as they tend to surface for some reason.

learn as you go but sometimes there are heart breaks.


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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  southern gardener on 7/21/2012, 9:08 pm

My compost pile has THOUSANDS in it. When I water it down, they literally pour out of it. We'll cross that bridge when we get there I guess? Sow bugs can't get dry, or they die, so I'm guess I'll spread out my compost before using it in our new beds, allowing it to dry out, and get rid of the sow bugs? Hope it works!!

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  Roseinarosecity on 7/22/2012, 2:27 am

If you sift the compost you can easily remove the grubs before they end up in your garden. I feed them to my chickens. I also cover my compost with cardboard to prevent rain in rainy season and evaporation in dry season. It also prevents my dog from looking for corn cobs or yucky avocados and prevents my chickens from stealing my earthworms.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  floyd1440 on 7/22/2012, 6:49 am

@Roseinarosecity wrote:If you sift the compost you can easily remove the grubs before they end up in your garden. I feed them to my chickens. I also cover my compost with cardboard to prevent rain in rainy season and evaporation in dry season. It also prevents my dog from looking for corn cobs or yucky avocados and prevents my chickens from stealing my earthworms.

Some bugs can be removed by sifting them out prior to adding to soil, like grubs. However I doubt you will get rid of all the bugs, if they are pill bugs, out of your compost by sifting them as they tend to roll into a ball.
http://insects.about.com/od/isopods/a/10-facts-pillbugs.htm

So you need to determine what bug you actually have............

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  CliffU on 9/12/2012, 11:51 am

Finding answers to compost problems is what led me to join this forum. After reviewing this thread it just seems like a mountain of work to reap the benefits of composting. Lots of internet info on what to add to a compost, how to prepare the compost. Pill bugs, earwigs, grubs, etc, are the most common in my compost.

My first few batches, didn't know the difference from good/bad bugs. To my surprise the added compost to my garden just demolished my plants.

Sifting: To get a screen that is fine enough for pill bugs, and earwigs seems like a lot of time sifting getting the compost materials to break down smaller than the bugs.

Diatomaceous Earth: DE is used for swimming pool filters. How much do you add to be effective? Then I need to store it in a dry place. Storage space is a premium.

Drying: Lay the compost out in the sun to dry it out before adding to garden. All those bugs are going to scatter else where, and may not even have the space to lay it out.

So now I have a sifter, DE, and a small pitch fork, a tarp to lay the compost out to dry etc. to store to maintain my compost.

Is there a simple organic, cost effective solution that I can spray the compost with? Will a vinegar solution work? Not sure if vinegar is safe for a compost, or if it will even kill the bugs. I dunno.

Just trying to find good, simple solutions to continue composting.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  RoOsTeR on 9/12/2012, 1:43 pm

@CliffU wrote:Finding answers to compost problems is what led me to join this forum. After reviewing this thread it just seems like a mountain of work to reap the benefits of composting. Lots of internet info on what to add to a compost, how to prepare the compost. Pill bugs, earwigs, grubs, etc, are the most common in my compost.


The best thing about compost is that compost happens basically no matter what. You can be as involved or not that you want to be. Some people go to great lengths to make great compost. Some do almost nothing and get great compost. I go to no great lengths to make compost. I layer browns and greens, hosing each layer with water and let nature take it's course and allow the heat to build.
I use ingredients I have around the farm. Untreated grass clippings, leaves, manures from all the animals, garden and kitchen scraps. I don't add worms or fancy starters. From time to time I may add a bit of cornmeal to boost the heat to kill off some of the uglies.
There is lot's of great information on our forum to make great compost. You'll just have to find what works best for you.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  Lindacol on 9/12/2012, 2:46 pm

[quote="CliffU"]
Diatomaceous Earth: DE is used for swimming pool filters. How much do you add to be effective? Then I need to store it in a dry place. Storage space is a premium.
quote]

You need food or feed grade DE, not the stuff used for pool filters. The reasons have been listed here on the forum before. I don't remember exactly what the difference is but have read this warning many times. Mine came from a feed store in about a 2 gal. size container.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  CharlesB on 9/12/2012, 3:30 pm

Mountain of work?

Organic matter + nature = you're done

Walk through any woods on Earth and you'll see all the scraps of the forest happily being digested away without anyone screwing with them and doing just fine.

If your scared off by a few grubs you picked the wrong hobby. Just say'n.


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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  CliffU on 9/12/2012, 4:26 pm

Jus' sayn' looking for a simpler approach for an urban gardener to continue composting. I have one of those soil saver compost bins, then finished compost goes into container gardens that I built. Even have coffin sized bins up on welded frames with casters! Unfortunately, I don't have a large yard to spread out and let nature do it's thang.

Otherwise, I could pull the bin, dry it out, let the bugs go where they want, and use the soil. It's not the grubs, I can pick those out, what about the earwigs, and pill bugs? Perhaps DE food grade is the answer, but now I am spending money to be green.

Sorry to the original poster, but hopefully still within topic.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  RoOsTeR on 9/12/2012, 4:48 pm

@CliffU wrote:Jus' sayn' looking for a simpler approach for an urban gardener to continue composting. I have one of those soil saver compost bins, then finished compost goes into container gardens that I built. Even have coffin sized bins up on welded frames with casters! Unfortunately, I don't have a large yard to spread out and let nature do it's thang.

Otherwise, I could pull the bin, dry it out, let the bugs go where they want, and use the soil. It's not the grubs, I can pick those out, what about the earwigs, and pill bugs? Perhaps DE food grade is the answer, but now I am spending money to be green.

Sorry to the original poster, but hopefully still within topic.

Nature does it's "thang" just about anywhere. If it's to tedious for you then you're putting to much effort into it. Very Happy I think what Charles (and myself) meant is that compost happens. You can compost in a garbage can if you want. You can focus on it and do something with it everyday, or you can simply forget about it and let nature do it's "thang".
As far as being green. Well, you can find plenty of ways to be green without spending a dime or you can empty your bank account and then some on green. Again, it's all in what you want to do.
There are many ways and little traps you can build or construct for nothing to take care of or help with earwigs if that's what you want to do.
Compost will have bugs. Earwigs, pill bugs, ants etc. Personally, I don't pay them much mind.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  RoOsTeR on 9/12/2012, 4:49 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:
@CliffU wrote:Jus' sayn' looking for a simpler approach for an urban gardener to continue composting. I have one of those soil saver compost bins, then finished compost goes into container gardens that I built. Even have coffin sized bins up on welded frames with casters! Unfortunately, I don't have a large yard to spread out and let nature do it's thing.

Otherwise, I could pull the bin, dry it out, let the bugs go where they want, and use the soil. It's not the grubs, I can pick those out, what about the earwigs, and pill bugs? Perhaps DE food grade is the answer, but now I am spending money to be green.

Sorry to the original poster, but hopefully still within topic.

Nature does it's "thang" just about anywhere. If it's to tedious for you then you're putting to much effort into it. Very Happy I think what Charles (and myself) meant is that compost happens. You can compost in a garbage can if you want. You can focus on it and do something with it everyday, or you can simply forget about it and let nature do it's "thang".
As far as being green. Well, you can find plenty of ways to be green without spending a dime or you can empty your bank account and then some on green. Again, it's all in what you want to do.
There are many ways and little traps you can build or construct for nothing to take care of or help with earwigs if that's what you want to do.
Compost will have bugs. Earwigs, pill bugs, ants etc. Personally, I don't pay them much mind.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  RoOsTeR on 9/12/2012, 4:50 pm

[quote="RoOsTeR"][quote="RoOsTeR"]
@CliffU wrote:Jus' sayn' looking for a simpler approach for an urban gardener to continue composting. I have one of those soil saver compost bins, then finished compost goes into container gardens that I built. Even have coffin sized bins up on welded frames with casters! Unfortunately, I don't have a large yard to spread out and let nature do it's thing.

Otherwise, I could pull the bin, dry it out, let the bugs go where they want, and use the soil. It's not the grubs, I can pick those out, what about the earwigs, and pill bugs? Perhaps DE food grade is the answer, but now I am spending money to be green.

Sorry to the original poster, but hopefully still within topic.

Nature does it's "thang" just about anywhere. If it's to tedious for you then you're putting to much effort into it. Very Happy I think what Charles (and myself) meant is that compost happens. You can compost in a garbage can if you want. You can focus on it and do something with it everyday, or you can simply forget about it and let nature do it's "thing".
As far as being green. Well, you can find plenty of ways to be green without spending a dime or you can empty your bank account and then some on green. Again, it's all in what you want to do.
There are many ways and little traps you can build or construct for nothing to take care of or help with earwigs if that's what you want to do.
Compost will have bugs. Earwigs, pill bugs, ants etc. Personally, I don't pay them much mind.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  plantoid on 9/12/2012, 5:39 pm

@CliffU wrote:Jus' sayn' looking for a simpler approach for an urban gardener to continue composting. I have one of those soil saver compost bins, then finished compost goes into container gardens that I built. Even have coffin sized bins up on welded frames with casters! Unfortunately, I don't have a large yard to spread out and let nature do it's thang.

Otherwise, I could pull the bin, dry it out, let the bugs go where they want, and use the soil. It's not the grubs, I can pick those out, what about the earwigs, and pill bugs? Perhaps DE food grade is the answer, but now I am spending money to be green.

Sorry to the original poster, but hopefully still within topic.

Hi Cliff ,
Welcome to the site.

I can understand your concerns they are normal , spend a few hours reading the compost threads found in the list on the home page index.

You will as like as not come to the conclusions already stated .. getting the compost to heat up by getting the layers/ mixing up right whilst it is damp sends temperatures s high 9 up to 160 oF . This encourages beneficial bacteria to break down the materials quickly and itfrequenlty also destroys weed seeds and insect lavae & grubs.
you might also become aware that the supply of oxygen from the air in to the compost is beneficial in getting those bacteria up and going as well , so some folk turn the material in the composter so as to get a quicker result.

I myself don't appear to get any insects after the hot composting is completely finsihed but in the fist few weeks of things heating and being turned for the first time there are zillions of bugs and flies hatching off the rotting vegetation/manures. Once finished the compost worms come in of their own accord from the surrounding soil and start their work munching the things they like.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  CharlesB on 9/12/2012, 10:18 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:You can compost in a garbage can if you want. You can focus on it and do something with it everyday, or you can simply forget about it and let nature do it's "thing".

Garbage can is all I have room for. I just have a regular plastic garbage can with a bunch of holes (3/8') drilled in it. I take scraps from a small sealable trash can from my kitchen and dump them in it when full. Organic material outside with moisture is all that is needed. If I put some particularly nasty stuff in it that smells or attracts flies I just put a good layer of dry leaves on it. I keep a few bags of dry leaves from Fall for this purpose.

It isn't the fastest way to do things or the prettiest but given time, it happens. Involves no effort on my part other than putting the scraps in the waste bin and emptying it to the outside bin when full. When I water my garden I give a good shot of water to the bin too.

It is always uncovered. I also rigged up a board that is a few inches wide with a cup drilled on to it. It spans across the top of the bin. This I fill with sunflower seeds. It attracts birds and they trade me bird guano for sunflower seeds. The bird guano also helps accelerate the decomposition. Plus the birds eat any little bugs they see flying/crawling around the bin (which gives me more bird guano).

Again this is almost no effort by me. It is as much effort as it would be if I was sending all the material to the garbage. Just putting it in a different bin. I am right next to my neighbor who is only a few feet from the bin and they have never complained about it. I would be surprised if they have even noticed it.

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Re: good bug/bad bug in compost?

Post  floyd1440 on 9/14/2012, 6:23 am

@CliffU wrote:Jus' sayn' looking for a simpler approach for an urban gardener to continue composting. I have one of those soil saver compost bins, then finished compost goes into container gardens that I built. Even have coffin sized bins up on welded frames with casters! Unfortunately, I don't have a large yard to spread out and let nature do it's thang.

Otherwise, I could pull the bin, dry it out, let the bugs go where they want, and use the soil. It's not the grubs, I can pick those out, what about the earwigs, and pill bugs? Perhaps DE food grade is the answer, but now I am spending money to be green.

Sorry to the original poster, but hopefully still within topic.

Also being an urban gardener I decided to build two bins out of hardware cloth, which didn't take much room, and ended up with enough compost to top dress my garden this fall. But I didn't care for constantly turning the pile so this fall I will load up both bns with lots of leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, etc. and let nature do the hard work over the winter and hopefully have plenty of compost by mid summer. My calculations are 90 cu ft. of material, in two bins, will make 26 cu ft. finished compost.

I got a lot of pill bugs but they are part of the process..............


floyd1440

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