Tolerance of immature black soldier flies (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) to cold temperatures above and below freezing point.
Black soldier flies, Hermetia illucens (L.), consume decaying organic materials at the larval stage and can be used for recycling a variety of biogenic wastes into value-added products. Black soldier flies are normally found in subtropical and warm temperate regions. Cold temperatures may prevent their establishment in colder areas, thus alleviating a concern of their becoming an invasive species. Potentially, cold temperatures can also be used to manipulate the rate of black soldier fly development, which may be needed for timing certain life stages for mass-production needs. In the present study, immature black soldier flies were highly susceptible to freezing. Their survivorship decreased as time spent at -12°C increased from 10 to 60 min. Only ca. 2% of eggs, <1% of larvae, and no pupae survived after 60 min of exposure. Chilling at 4°C also had a significant negative effect that became more pronounced as duration of exposure increased from 24 to 72 h. Only ca. 2% of eggs and second instars and ca. 23% of pupae survived after 72 h. In the same time, >80% of third instars and >90% of fifth instars were still alive following 72 h of exposure. Chilling fifth instars resulted in smaller adults but freezing them for 48 h resulted in bigger adults. Based on these results, black soldier fly is unlikely to establish in areas with long periods of subfreezing winter temperatures. Low temperatures may be used to manipulate development of the late instars, but at a cost of higher mortality.