Using a composting toilet and composting your waste in general is a good way to help protect our environment, and people inclined to use composting toilets tend to be very environmentally conscious. One of nature’s “all natural” gifts to mankind is the fruit fly and sewer fly, both of which seem to have an extraordinary sense of smell. All composting toilets are susceptible to fly larva infestations. These infestations are more of a nuisance than a health hazard but they add significantly to the “yuck factor” of composting toilets. They are more common in areas where livestock is present or fresh vegetables or table scraps are kept in the home on the counter. Infestations can be avoided using simple preventative techniques such as thoroughly washing the skins of vegetables with a scrubby and regular once a week emptying and adding diatomaceous earth to the medium as needed.
However, sometimes more aggressive means need to be used to deal with flies. Care needs to be taken with how you apply these remedies, especially in situations where waste is used as fertilizer in food production and where food production is important to quality of life or survival. My first recommendation is to use diatomaceous earth. It is inexpensive, can be stored indefinitely, and is non-toxic to humans. If you are not already using DE read my blog regarding its use (pending). If you are experiencing infestations that DE does not handle effectively, there are a couple of other good, more aggressive options.
One of the more effective, less expensive and safer products on the market is Sevin dust (not to be confused with Sevin granules). Extensive testing of this product has been done and while a few people believe it to be more harmful than stated, it is a very reasonable alternative to starving to death. Preppers and survivalists should stock pile this item. It does have a five-year shelf life. Use it prudently on a rotational basis to insure protection of your garden and control of pests in your toilet as needed. In the garden, application should be judicious and surgical. A bulb or accordion duster is a good way to apply the dust for broader coverage, but it can be simply sprinkled out of the container for spot control. It is important to use a plastic cup to shield flowers while dusting to prevent killing pollinating insects like bees and butterflies which tend to land only on the flowers. The presence of pollinating insects is just as vital to garden health as the absence of damaging insects.
Using it inside your composting toilet to prevent fly infestation is less problematic than using it in the garden. One fly does not an infestation make, but if you are using DE and when you lift the lid a fly flies out, treat the medium with Sevin dust for the quickest knockdown. If more than one fly exits the toilet, spray inside of the bucket with flying insect killer and treat the medium with Sevin dust. If you have inadvertently neglected the toilet and you see an active maggot infestation read this blog (pending) on emptying and cleaning the toilet.
Sevin dust will decompose within 3-10 days. Sevin granules take much longer. Three to ten days is an ideal time frame for use in the toilet since you will be emptying it into the compost tower in that general time frame. To start off with, I would dump or sprinkle a half cup of Sevin dust onto the medium of your choice at the time you refill the solid waste bucket. Churn the mixture until it is evenly mixed, usually 20-30 times.
If you are raising black soldier flies, use a small sampling of soldier fly larva to determine the amount of Sevin dust needed to effectively prevent fly infestation but not cause a die off in your soldier fly waste processor if you are using one. Do this by transferring a small amount of larva into the treated waste from the toilet. If the test sample survives 24 hours, and there is no infestation in the toilet, the mixture is probably not too strong. Increase or reduce the amount until you get the most economically desired effect.
A second option that is basically identical to the use of Sevin dust is Borax or Boric acid. While Borax and boric acid are not exactly the same thing, they do work the same way. Borax has the consistency of sugar and is chemically stable and stores indefinitely. Follow all the guidelines I described above for Sevin except you should not use it directly in the garden without first studying its properties. See the link at the end of this article.
There are several good articles online about using Borax in the garden. In a nut shell, borax is helpful for Cruciferous vegetables but detrimental to other plants and can take up to three years to dissipate. You can damage your garden by overuse directly on the garden itself. If you mix your composted toilet waste that has been treated with borax with your garden and lawn compost, the amount of borax added to your garden is almost certainly negligible. Borax can also be used in spot insect control such as ants and can be safely used in the home to combat termites and roaches. These added benefits make it a good candidate for consideration for use and storage.
There has been some success in preventing infestations using moth balls (naphthalene), but they should be used only is areas that are well ventilated and their effectiveness is unreliable. They are a child hazard because they look like candy and are toxic. They can mask any musty smell from the medium and give your toilet the smell of a public restroom which some people find nice.
Hot Shot no-pest strips are more effective but the same cautions apply with respect to ventilation. If you are running a positive pressure ventilation hose from the head, this should suffice to keep the vapors out of the living space.
I. G. Regulator
Another product is Martin’s I.G. Regulator. This product seems to work well with less restrictions on its application. Measure and pour out 1/2 oz of the liquid onto a wad of cotton balls in the bucket basket. This will keep it out of the waste and does seem to kill flies in the proximity.
There are special products on the market specifically for fly control such as “Golden Malrin.” I do not recommend this product for use inside the toilet because it is highly poisonous to humans. I would only use it in an OTG homestead setting and I would follow its instructions with respect to general fly control. It may help with infestations by controlling the fly population in general, but it is not recommended for use inside the toilet. Creating and maintaining a black soldier fly population will help do the same thing and is one of the great things about black soldier flies.
For more information on Sevin dust (click here)
For more information on Boric acid (click here)
This is not an endorsement of any product or vendor. Read and follow the instructions on anything you use. All advice in this article is anecdotal and from my personal experience and I assume no responsibility for the results or experiences of others. In all cases, do your due diligence and use your best judgement.
Please feel free to make constructive comments or ask questions below.
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