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Israeli researchers angling to use flies as fish, animal food

BioBee Biological System says black soldier fly larvae are an excellent source of quality protein and fats

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A black soldier fly. (Courtesy BioBee Biological System)
A black soldier fly. (Courtesy BioBee Biological System)

A kibbutz in northern Israel wants to turn flies from disease-spreading pests into a nutritious meal — for farmed fish and animals.

BioBee Biological System, a company operated by Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, said in a statement Monday that larvae from the black soldier fly are a rich source of protein and fat, making them ideal for animal feed and fish meal.

“The black soldier fly is of especial nutritional value, with a high protein and fat content,” the company said in a statement. “Therefore it serves as an effective and environmentally friendly substitute for fish meal and other foods that are now fed to animals. The byproducts from growing the black fly are used as an agricultural fertilizer.”

Each female fly can lay between 600-800 eggs at a time from which hundreds of larvae rapidly develop into a ready source of nutrition.

Black soldier fly larvae. (Courtesy BioBee Biological System)

A recent trial run feeding trout with protein harvested from flies was successful and the test is now being expanded for use on fish farms that grow edible and ornamental fish.

According to the statement a third of processed animal food comes from fish drawn from the ocean because of the high quality protein content. However, with fish populations dwindling the oceans will soon be unable to supply enough fish for protein demands.

An alternative is insects, which are a “better quality replacement.”

“Breeding insects is environmentally friendly since they feed on organic waste and have minimal environmental impact,” BioBee said.

Also, they are suitable and healthy for human consumption.

In 2013 the online design magazine De Zeen reported Austrian designer Katharina Unger had built a home breeding system for black soldier flies. Unger described harvesting and then cooking the larvae, saying they produced a smelled like cooked potatoes and tasted “nutty and a bit meaty.” Her favorite recipe was larvae and tomato risotto.

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