9

First insect question: When I turned our compost pile yesterday, there was a lot of very rich smelling black soil, semi composted vegetables/plant/oak leaf matter, and a LOT of pill bugs. My wife said, "They're doing their job well." Are pill bugs good for the compost pile?

Second insect question: I've read in so many places online, and in Robert Rodale Press organic gardening books about; "Anything that was once alive - is organic." Would that include the hordes of grasshoppers we have here in Texas? If so, would there be a benefit to me throwing a few hundred of them (dead) into my compost pile?

I do not put anything inorganic, diseased, or with pesticides in our compost pile. Our compost pile/bin is 5'x5' and 36 inches tall.

8

Seems like pillbugs are good for the compost pile.

Pillbugs form an important component of the larger decomposer fauna, along with earthworms, snails, and millipedes. All of these animals return organic matter to the soil where it is further digested by fungi, protozoans, and bacteria, hence making nitrates, phosphates, and other vital nutrients available to plants. Although they may occasionally feed on roots, pillbugs do minimal damage to live vegetation and should not be regarded as pests.

Ref: http://www3.northern.edu/natsource/INVERT1/Pillbu1.htm

On the 2nd question, yes, insects would make a fine contribution to the pile. Insects are a rich source of protein, which contains nitrogen. I've seen guys composting large animals (hogs) with frontend loaders to insert them into the pile, though, I wouldn't recommend composting animals for the average gardener.

I couldn't find anything specific to composting insects, but if we work on the assumption that chickens are harder to compost...

Research at the University of Maryland, and field application in other poultry states, have shown that normal mortality can be handled efficiently and safely by composting dead poultry. Composting is a natural process in which beneficial organisms--bacteria and fungi--reduce and transform organic wastes into a useful end product--compost--which can be used as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Although simple in concept and design, dead poultry composters require attention to detail and careful management. Effective July 1, 1992 properly constructed and properly managed dead bird composters are an acceptable method of handling normal flock mortality in Virginia.

Ref: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/442/442-037/442-037.html

Just think how much easier composting a grasshopper would be.

The recommendation from the Hopper Stopper is:

When the grasshoppers die, simply unclip the lid and throw the dead grasshoppers in the trash or compost pile.

Ref: http://www.hopperstopper.com/id67.html

  • Pillbugs - Crustaceans that are good for finishing out organic matter in your compost heap, but can do a number on your Iceberg lettuce. – Fiasco Labs Jul 13 '13 at 17:04
  • I hope I am doing this correctly. Thank you for your well-thought-out answer. I was worried about using the pill bug filled compost in a new addition to our garden. After online research and reading your answer/reply -- I feel informed. Thank you again. – Mr. Anderson Jul 19 '13 at 3:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.