Bugs in the Sawdust Toilet

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Bugs in the Sawdust Toilet
Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, August 27, 2007 - 7:39 pm
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If you're seeing anything other than cover material in your toilet, you're not using enough cover material.

Author: Eva Cristo (Evacrist)
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 9:21 pm
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Dear Joe, I am a big fan of humanure, but my husband was only letting me urinate in our sawdust toilet for the past 2 years (we have an inside toilet for the good stuff!). He has his "concerns". Well I got all rebellious in the last couple of weeks and told him I'd decided that it was high time we go all the way with this thing---however, today I noticed a writhing mess in my sawdust! The toilet's fresh, just 4-5 days' worth of pee with one or 2 "larger deposits". Am I not covering enough? Is this just because it's summer? Our sawdust is from his job, so might it be a kiln-dried problem?? Thanks!

Author: John Hamm
Saturday, September 01, 2001 - 1:18 pm
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Small flies have invaded my indoor sawdust toilet in the warm weather. They are about 1/8 inch long and have brown bodies with black stripes across the back. They've got six legs and wings and fly in short hops in all directions when not crawling up the bucket or hiding in the sawdust. I keep lots of sawdust cover in the bucket and there is little or no smell. Cleaning the toilet and letting it air for several days has not solved the problem. I don't see any flies in the suwdust supply. Can anyone help me get rid of these pests?

Author: Rob Canning
Sunday, September 02, 2001 - 11:11 pm
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The insects that you mention are probably not so much attracted to the humanure in your toilet as they are to the sawdust. Otherwise you'd have houseflies. That's probably why cleaning your bucket throughly doesn't make a difference. I bet the bugs are already living in your sawdust supply long before it finds its way into your toilet.

If the bugs don't bite or otherwise cause trouble, you may not even need to get rid of them. Otherwise, what you might try is filling up a bucket with sawdust a few days or a week before you plan to actually use it. Then cover it with a lid that is airtight or almost airtight and leave the bucket in a warm, sunny place. Preferably there is some moisture in your sawdust to start with (or you can pour in a few cups of water). This may heat up the inside of the bucket to the point where the bugs can't survive.

I do this to get my sawdust moldy ahead of time, as I get it in small amounts at a time and it usually doesn't sit outside long enough to start to decay, but I've found that it can also heat up the inside of the bucket enough to kill some insects.

Author: andrew Rettig
Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 3:27 am
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I too had experience with these little flies but have tended not to worry about them and just leave them as fodder for interested predators. I tried to encourage daddy long leg spiders around the toilet and trap them in their webs. This seems to work. Perhaps shift the toilet outside (after all a poo with a view is quite good too!)
good luck
andrew, adelaide

Author: shelly
Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 12:57 am
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Thought I'd jump in here and ask a question. My compost pile has small flying insects hovering over the pile. The contents are covered and I detect no odor. It doesn't look like the insects are actually IN the compost but are attracted by something. They look and behave like fruit flies but seem smaller. I wonder if I shouldn't worry about them and let them be or should I be doing something to discourage their interest in my pile?

Author: Joe Jenkins
Tuesday, October 02, 2001 - 7:47 pm
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I don't think it sounds like a matter of concern, especially if it's a passing issue and not something that happens constantly. Maybe the heat and or moisture that radiates off your compost attracts some small flying insects, or maybe they're coming from the cover material itself. A heavier (thicker), clean cover material over the top of the pile should allay your concerns.

Author: shelly skye
Thursday, October 04, 2001 - 4:52 pm
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Thanks Joe, I did check the last couple of days and the bugs have gone off to some other home. I guess I got anxious about my cleanliness habits and wanted to be reassured about my system.
Shelly

Author: Retreatgal
Tuesday, October 16, 2001 - 9:03 am
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In warmer areas there is a small fly that is attracted to rotting fruit and vegetables. It resembles a small fruit fly. We get them in our worm bin and I wonder if this is the small fly you are noticing. We have just started using a compost loo but haven't noticed them invading it - yet.

http://globalpermaculture.50megs.com/

Author: Lawrence B. Carroll
Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 11:08 am
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In the warm months I have had the same problem. My bugs, like those described here, resemble fruit flies. In fact, I thought until I saw these posts that they were fruit-flies. I still wonder!

I attacked the problem with several different solutions simultaneously. One of the things I did was put a glass with a small amount of ammonia near the bucket of my humanure. (The bucket sits in a wood box with a toilet lid, just like in the Humanure Handbook, so one has an enclosed space where the ammonia vapors can accumulate). This ammonia vapor escaping from the glass seems to keep any curious flies from venturing in, but is not strong enough to bother me while I am engaged in making my deposits (or any other time). (I have also used ammonia as a roach spray before too, so obviously bugs don't particularly like it since it kills them)

Before the ammonia idea hit me, another thing I did was to put a few squares of yellow backed fruit-fly paper (these have stickum on them) in this same area. These caught most of the little buggers!

One other thing I did (which is actualy the first thing

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