Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh Sawfly Maggot, I Love You So

First off, to those of you reading this whom I met at the National Association for Interpretation conference this week, hi!  (I'm waving furiously, you just can't see it)

In my days teaching people about the wonderful outdoors, I've worked with a lot of animals, some of which others wouldn't dream of going near.  I've gently herded western diamondback snakes off of the road, picked up barked scorpions, pet alligators (and not all of them in captivity...I know...I'm nuts), and conversed with slugs, worms, millipedes, bees, and nematodes.  Many people ask "isn't there any animal that creeps you out?"  Why yes, yes there is.  Maggots.

Maggots give me the heebie jeebies something awful.  Especially when they are surrounded by about a quadrillion of their nearest kin.  And then something happened that changed my view of maggots forever: I met the humble sawfly maggot.

Hey, I may like the guys, but don't expect me to start talking baby talk to them.

Some of you may remember me mentioning the sawfly in a previous post on the mini ecosystem that exists inside my compost bin. I mentioned that sawflies not only don't care about humans, but they also drive other species of flies away that are interested in ruining our day.  But the thing that really amazes me is just how good the sawfly maggot is at turning my garbage into soil.  Within days, what used to be lettuce, tomatoes, bread, and pulled weeds is reduced to an unrecognizable brown sludge.  Now that may sound gross, but think about it; these guys are faster than any other decomposer I've ever seen in a compost pile.

In fact they are so good at what they do that some researchers and farmers are looking into the possibility of using black sawfly maggots to get rid of hog waste, a major pollutant.  The sawfly maggots that grow in the waste can also be used as food supplements for hogs and fish!

Black sawfly maggots may not be cute and cuddly, but they have earned a new found respect for maggots in my heart.  So until the next time I turn my compost pile, little maggots, may your days be full of delicious compost.


  1. Your post made me chuckle - I totally understand the heebie jeebies. Good for you for wishing them well! Love your writing style, keep it up!

    Here's my worst nightmare: TICKS! (gag)

    1. Hi there! Sorry for the delay in responding to you, I just discovered that Blogger stopped notifying me about comments during my blogging sabbatical--ugh! Thank you for finding my blog and for your kind comments. I will now be back to posting weekly, so stay tuned!

  2. Thank you just saved me from planting my Gooseberry plants (which sawfly loves a little too much) too close to my compost pile. I'm sure they will still find my plants *sigh*, but at least I won't be making it easier.