Starting your own compost pile is a great idea if you’d like to enrich your yard’s soil and plant life in an environmentally friendly way. Composting helps refresh dry, arid soil by encouraging the production of microorganisms that will break down organic matter. Composting also reduces the need for water, fertilizer and harmful pesticides while gardening or maintaining your lawn.
However, if you have a low tolerance for insects around the yard, you may want to think twice about composting. Turning your compost pile regularly and proper construction can help cut down on the insect population, but even with meticulous maintenance, your compost pile will still attract a variety of pests.
- Stable flies – These are similar in appearance to house flies except for a needle-like protrusion that can be seen on the back of its head. The stable fly uses this protrusion to feed on the blood of humans and animals that can result in a nasty little bite. Stable flies also lay eggs that turn into maggots similar to a house fly, but take a bit longer to develop into adults – 18 to 53 days after the eggs are laid.
- Green june beetles – Green june beetles have a metallic appearance and can grow to one inch in length. You’ll probably hear these bugs before you see them – they’re strong fliers that buzz very loudly as they travel about. They won’t bite humans, instead preferring juicy fruits and vegetables such as peaches, berries and corn. The beetles lay their eggs on organic matter which later transforms into a grub. The grub feeds on the organic matter over the summer, burrows underground during the winter and returns in the spring to feed again before transforming into an adult.
- House flies – The common house fly loves just about any type of decaying debris, so a compost pile makes for a perfect home. In fact, house flies prefer their food to be broken down as much as possible as they use their mouths like a sponge to suck up nutrition. Like stable flies, the house fly will lay its eggs on organic debris where they will hatch into maggots and feed on the compost. Unlike stable flies, the house fly larvae will be able to fly just 6 to 20 days after it’s been laid.
Since the temperature of a compost pile can affect the presence of bugs, it’s critical to keep up with turning it over at least every 2 weeks. To keep the heat up and bugs down, continue turning the pile over, rebuilding it, and watering it as you go.
Compost bins can help control the bug population to a certain extent, but there isn’t much that can be done to permanently eliminate these pests except for using pesticides (which sort of eliminates the purpose of a compost pile in the first place).
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