The Flying Roomba

by Pavan Kaushik : It has been nearly four years since I dumped wet waste into garbage. Every bit of the “trash”  was converted into flying micro roombas that clean the world. I got a home composter call “kambha“. Kambha means a pillar in Kannada due to the composters resemblance to a tiered pillar. The way it works is, you fill the top chamber with kitchen waste, then the middle and so on and you let nature do its magic. 


Along with the usual bacteria and fungi that decompose our bio waste, one key player makes this process rapid and fun. Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens), more so its larvae, are voracious feeders. They rapidly chomp their way through the lavish spread. In a fortnight, they swell up and become a pre-pupa. This is the most fun part, where they climb up and crawl away into distant corners and burrow in the dark holes. Two weeks later, a glassy, delicate yet vicious looking wasp-like insect emerges. This harmless fly, with no mouthparts, mimics a wasp and goes about to find other places to lay its quarry.
This ecosystem is supported by many other invertebrates and microorganisms to convert our waste into black gold of nutritious compost that can be used to grow food or other plants. The pupae are also a fantastic source of nutrition to robins, bulbuls and chats that visit our composter. For the open minded, they are also a good place to start eating home-made high quality protein.

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