H E L P: My Composter is Full of Larvae!!!

H E L P ! ! ! When I opened the hatch on my above-ground compost tumbler the entire bottom of the thing was squirming and writhing with what I first took to be worms. But on closer inspection I believe that these are mostly some kind of an insect larvae-- possibly cockroaches-- and there are thousands of them. I really don't want the composter to become the breeding ground for a pest infestation. Is there anything I can do to kill the buggars without ruining the compost?
I've used mostly vegetable scraps, rotten fruit and coffee grounds in this batch...
The composter is in the shade all of the time. Do you think that placing it in the sun (It is made of black polypropylene) would cook them?
Thank you, --Max
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Max Krippler wrote:

What else that's not "mostly"? What you describe is probably maggots... you probably put some meat in your composter

Composting occurs best with heat, that's why most composters are black, or of some dark color... place it where it will recieve full sun. Above ground composters don't work very well regardless, especially not in zones where freezing occurs.
My neighbor just bought a new above ground tumbler composter (Autoflow), cost like $600, looks very formidable, but I doubt it will work very well. Proper composting incorporates mostly micro-organisms and earthworms, composting really needs contact with the ground, ideally moist ground.
If what you have is maggots, and you very likely do, then you are not composting... maggots do not process vegetable matter, only meat. Whatever vegetable matter you place into that tumbler will just turn to slime, not compost. I suggest you dump your tumbler composter and get one that sits on the ground.
I have this one: http://www.composters.com/docs/bins_p4.html#sm
It's the only one I've seen that has a 25 year warranty... most have a one, two, three year warranty and are built very flimsily... this one is built very solid. I've been using it about ten years now and it's just like new. It's so simple but it works like a charm... I just keep filling it and and it takes care of itself, produces fantastic jet black humous. I bought one of those aggitating tools but long ago stopped using it, I do nothing but fill at the top and empty from the bottom.
Sits in full sun right next to my vegetable garden:
http://i17.tinypic.com/663is0j.jpg
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Yep. That's the one I have. It's excellent. With the right mix of dried leaves and layers of green stuff, it sometimes keeps composting right into late December.

Has that fence been enough to keep deer out? Some shmexperts say deer will jump fences as high as 6 feet when tempted by the appropriate snack.
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So far no deer have jumped in, and this is the fifth year since I fenced that garden. The deer have plenty to eat around here in the fields, even in winter because the farmers leave plenty of hay in those huge round bales. And deer are not so dumb to jump into small enclosed areas, they seem to know if they need a running start to jump in they'll measure to see if they can get the same running start to jump out. I actually see them checking out my garden, they go all around surveying but decide it's not worth the risk.
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I may try it, then. I'm tired of caging individual stuff, although it does keep the rabbits away. I was concerned that if they jumped in, they'd do more damage by trampling small stuff. This week, it's the daylillies they're interested in. I just caged them so at least I get to enjoy a few flowers this year. Last year, they munched all the buds. I have a couple of plants that are like the common roadside ones, so I'm going to un-cage it today and hose it down with the foulest smelling onion-garlic stuff in the universe.
Meanwhile, there's a rabbit which I thought was cooking up a way to get under the cages. But, observation revealed that it's eating one of the weeds. Lots of them. So for now, the bunny has escaped the stove. For now.
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All of my foundation plantings are fenced with 4' turkey wire... I learned the hard way the first year that left unfenced during winter the deer munched most of my shrubs down to nubs... some came back but some needed replacing. All those very expensive smelly deer repellant sprays, fox piss, bars of soap, human hair, all are myth... only thing works is a fence... a strand or two of electrified wire won't keep deer out either, you'd need to elecrify an entire wire fence, so if you need to install a fence they won't jump over anyway you don't need to electrify. I fence all my young trees too, some with turkey wire, others with chicken wire. The rabbits can't get past my turkey wire but the moles just dig under (for some strange reason they don't go through the fence holes, turkey wire holes are certainly large enough, perhaps they don't like surfacing any more then is necessary. They eat some but I can't be bothered trying to keep everything out or I'll go nuts, it's the country... as long as they leave enough for me I'm happy. And then there're the birds, I can't net everything... who cares if they peck a few holes in a cuke. I'm sure the hawks are controlling the mole population all day, and the owls all night. The birds are good, as long as they leave me a crap-free zone in my barn to park my tractor.
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Spread it out to dry in the sun, or add dry wood ashes.
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On second thought can you get some fress grass clippings to mix in and bring the temperature up? No larvae will survive 150+ degrees a hot compost would make, I am imagining a slimy mess that is too moist tight now,
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wrote:

This compost pile sounds nauseating. :-)
For the OP: For obvious reasons, do not scrape the dinner plates into whatever you use to transport scraps to the composter. No meat juices, no gravy, no butter, no egg residue, no egg shells (and I don't care what anybody tells you about this). Just vegetable stuff which has not come into contact with any of the aforementioned stuff. Besides maggots, the scent of these things can attract raccoons. They'll even go for banana peels, but why make it more interesting?
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It isn't slimy,and the only non-vegetable matter we've added were some (well rinsed) eggshells. I'll start by moving the thing into the sun and put grass clippings in if I can find some clean ones. We used alot of grass clippings in our compost last year and they must have had weeds because a lot of weeds turned up in our tomato beds this year. I've heard that if I can get it hot enough it will sterilize the seeds...
And if these are maggots, they are the biggest damn maggots I've ever seen. Some of them are an inch and a half long!!!
--Max
wrote:

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Read more carefully. You need ***A MIX*** of green (like grass clippings, lettuce discards, corn husks) and brown (like dried leaves). Obviously, it may be hard to find dried leaves at this time of year. So, keep the layers of grass clippings thin, and intersperse with whatever you can find.
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On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 18:27:14 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Read what more carefully? I've followed the instructions that came with the composter and it has worked fine in the past (well, except for those weeds).
And this is SoCal in our driest year in recorded history. Unfortunately, dead dry leaves are a little too easy to find right now...
--Max
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On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 19:35:43 -0700, Max Krippler

Speaking of "driest year", after you've moved your bin into a sunny area and added (whatever), don't forget that compost needs to be kept moist. So after it's been stabilized in its new location, water it every week or so.
How about pine needles? On my street, everybody hates those trees; if it isn't the needles it's the seeds and if it isn't the seeds it's the sap. But in our adobe soil, the acid pine needles are a good additive to compost, so I do use them.
Good luck
Persephone (also in So.Cal.)
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If you can't find dried leaves, you could use shredded newspaper or brown paper bags as a substitute for the brown ingredient.

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Wow, the only larvae I ever see that size are stag beetles in the woodchips.Id be curious to find out what you are raising but I know it isn't roaches.
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Max Krippler wrote:

Guessing soldier fly maggots...but they are a sign that meat/grease/fats found their way in the bin. Hot composting rather than cold composting will stop much of the insect activity. And as mentioned to much vegetation from the kitchen table only creates a wet environment so add leaves/grass clippings/news paper(no color adds).
Lar
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Max Krippler wrote:

Roaches have what's called a gradual life cycle...little roaches look pretty much like adult roaches so you probably would recognize them easy enough. You probably have something in the fly and gnat family eating the probably soggy decomposing vegetable matter (such as fruit flies attacking rotting fruit in the house). I would think you would want your composter in the sun anyways to help with the composting.
Lar
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A good read.
Bill
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting
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Might be the coffee grounds. We had one of those plastic ice cream tubs next to the kitchen sink and put the daily coffee grounds in there til it got full then we dumped them in the compost, and one time after leaving it for way too long, there were maggots.
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