Bugs in your bin?

by Thomas Fazio, Organic Solutions Manager

Yuck!  I recently  opened my compost bin to find bugs crawling around the lid of my bin.  It was not a pleasant experience.  Unfortunately, this time of year maggots show up every now and then.  The good news is they are usually a sign of clean compost and are by no means harmful to the composting process.  All the same, we definitely don’t want them in your bins ‒ and are pretty sure you feel the same ‒ so  we wanted to share our recommendations to reduce the chances of bugs in your bin! 

Maggots are typically found on the rims of bins beginning in late spring through summer because the compostable liner in your bin ‘melts’ to the top of the bin in the heat of the summer. The liner is made from corn starch, which contains sugars that attract flies.  Flies lay eggs here, which later become maggots. The rim is a desirable ‘Goldilocks’ zone for maggots in the warmer months as it’s not too hot or too cold. Maggots don’t like excess cold or excess heat. In fact, customers who leave their bin in a location that receives direct sunlight do not typically have problems with these pests because the temperature in their bin is too hot!

If you see maggots in your bin and your collection day is still a few days away, leave the bin out in direct sunlight for 15-20 minutes every day until your bin is collected. That should kill any bugs on the rim or at least make them move to the interior of the bin.  In the interior, they are less of an issue considering maggots are actually help break down the food waste!  

After your compost is collected, remove the new liner and thoroughly clean the bin with a combination of water, vinegar and lemon juice. Pay special attention to the rim and lid of the bin. After the bin dries, place the liner back in the bin and start filling it up again. If you clean your bin once or twice a month during the warm summer months you should not have any problems with bugs.

If you follow these steps and still have problems, please let us know because we are determined to not let the maggots win!