Preventing Maggots in Compost

Preventing Maggots in Compost

From the Comox Valley Echo, Tuesday 6 August 2013, Ask a Pro

Question: I saw a news story about maggots in some curbside pickup greenbins. What’s going on? Admiring some compost

Answer: Yes, that is a bit of a yuck issue. Happily it is easily controlled. Maggots are fly larvae and have about a 7 day life cycle. They are attracted to protein sources – meat and bones primarily – and thrive in warm weather. To get rid of them, you need to prevent access to the fly treats. For your greenbin, there are several strategies. Wrap meat in paper. Or freeze it first. Or cover with leaves or soil or even greens. Wash and dry the greenbin after each pickup. Larvae hatch in about 48 hours so it’s best to put the stinkies out just the day before pickup.

You can compost meat and bones in the metal Speedibin composter also. Just make sure that they are buried several inches into the compost. Flies won’t dig through two inches of browns or soil. But do not put meat and bones in plastic or open bins or you may have worse problems than harmless but icky maggots. We have found that compost worms love meat and fish scraps and the resulting compost is luxuriously fertile!

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A compost pit is a great way to get rid of kitchen scraps! Yes, maggots are efficient composters and can reduce the pile surprisingly quickly. However, when they become flies, they can transport bacteria that are not good for humans such as salmonella and e.coli, since they are probably eating meat that has eaten meat. I think if it was me, I would fill the pit in frequently, plant over it and dig a new pit, rotating around the garden. The soil will become very rich.


I have a backyard buried compost pit that I throw all kitchen scraps in with the purpose of reducing waste. No producing compost. I throw ALL waste from the kitchen into it. It is surrounded by heavy bricks and has a heavy steel lid so rodents are not a problem and smells aren’t until you open it. With my system would maggots be beneficial to help the reduction of waste and if so will they be attracted to it?

Because it is completely enclosed I really don’t care how gross it looks inside.


Worm farms produce worm castings which can give organic manure for our garden soil, plants as well as the potted plants of our home.


I add mass amounts of used coffee grinds from Starbucks every now and then. We are getting a garden dug soon when the landscaping gets done. I’m going to shovel the barrel out before they add the good dirt because I have very limited space to do this. My plan is to empty it once a year in the fall regardless of how composted it is and work it into the soil where it can finish breaking down. I can bury the stuff that’s not broken down and spread the finished compost from the bottom of the bin on top of the garden. I have been adding to it since last fall and it’s still not full so something must be working right.


To speed it up, you can make hot compost. It will work very fast so that in a few days the volume will have shrunk and in two or three weeks it will have finished its hot stage. You can make hot compost in a pit if you add the right materials and manage it. A pit has the advantage of being relatively insulated. To make hot compost, you need a ratio of about 30 to 1 of carbon to nitrogen. So a good example would be 4 parts grass clippings to 1 part sawdust. Or 3 parts shredded leaves, 1 part dry cow manure and 1 part green garden waste. It needs to be kept moist, aerated and mixed for the fastest results.
If you still want to attract maggots, you can add meat or dog food or manure. If the flies become a problem, you can cover the pit over with soil. Do let me know how it works out for you.


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