Manna Insect

Manna Insect FAQ

On this page we answer the questions that have come up during the Manna Insect Free Webinar series and customer calls. The questions have been divided in nine categories as listed below, so you can simply jump into your area of interest via the links below.

If you haven’t had a chance to participate in the webinars live, but would like to access the recordings, just fill this FORM and you’ll receive a link to all the recordings!


  • Rearing and breeding insects in a profitable way requires optimal climate conditions. Outdoor rearing of BSF is unpredictable even in areas with hot and humid climate
  • With Manna BSF production unit you don’t need to commit to fixed infrastructure investments, but need only a piece of land, electricity and a small warehouse.
  • Blac soldier fly (BSF) larvae allows to upcycle locally found biowaste to animal feed (and fertilizer) and reduces dependence on soy meal.
  • Biowaste – how much? What type? Where from?
    • One 20ft container / unit can process up to 12 tn/month if used at maximum capacity
    • Almost anything is viable, but mainly fruits, vegetables, grain, manure, meat works best (and especially if mixed).
  • Logistical infrastructure
    • Small truck or car to get biowaste
    • A small crusher/mixer to pre-process biowaste and load it to trays
    • A small vibrating sieve to separate frass and larvae after unloading
    • Potentially a pallet truck or similar to make loading faster (manual work also possible)
  • Container – how many? What materials? How do I build it?
    • A used standard 20ft shipping container or a similar size of space that is carefully insulated
    • Manna provides  sourcing and assembly guidance documents for materials and equipment needed
  • Manna MIND IoT unit
  • Digital documentation to source and assemble the container (also turn-key option is available)
  • Remote support via email, live chat and video calls for any part of the process
  • Digital guidance on how to use the container
  • Up-to-date information and latest news of Insect farming and industry
  • Typically sourcing material and components takes 4-5 weeks
  • Manna can deliver MIND control system within 4 weeks
  • Assembly takes approximately one week
  • Best estimate from start to finish is 6-7 weeks

We want to make BSF farming and local feed and fertilizer production possible for everyone and everywhere. This is why Manna container is the most inexpensive and fastest way of start learning and make profitable business. Our starter package total investment including Manna’s control unit (MIND), materials, equipment, assembly work and necessary setup for rearing or breeding container will cost around $15,000 to $20,000 depending on local sourcing and labor costs.
Fill our contact form and you will get more info

Manna containers, MIND unit and process environment

Manna containers don’t need physical automation but you can use some low maintenance techniques (conveyor belt etc) for pre- and post-processing. Automation comes from the Manna MIND which is your entomology and process worker inside the container, controlling the environment for you automatically and in real time.
Yes, we also have a containerized solution for breeding, similar to the rearing containers but with different climate conditions optimised for rearing (slightly different equipment) and with love cages instead of insect trays.
We have used only special purpose BSF LEDs, but we have heard that normal supermarket LED lights can be used also.
With our Manna MIND unit, we have full control over the incoming, circulating and exhaust air and ventilation of each container. The air circulation and overall the environment in the container is optimised for BSF larvae, to maximise the wellbeing and growth of it. This is part of our expertise as a technology provider for BSF businesses.

Manna solutions key purpose is to provide the best possible environment for BSF to grow and breed. Even in tropical climates weather conditions and humidity can change a lot during day and night and there are colder and warmer seasons all around the year. Inside Manna containers the artificial climate is optimal all the time for BSF, and it is adjusted during the rearing cycle. Purpose is to reach optimal results; get full grown large larvae and consume all biomaterials during the growing process.

In the batch process mode the larvae are only fed once, so there is no need to go in the container during the rearing cycle. Thus, the insect trays being placed tight is not a problem, as long as the air still circulates well in between the pallets and the container walls, as well as in between the trays of course.
We can provide you with detailed instructions and assembly guidance on how to set up the containers in your country. Once we have jointly validated suitable materials and equipment, we will send you our Manna MIND IoT unit, which must be installed by a licensed electrician. The price of the first Manna MIND unit includes all necessary materials, guides, and training on how to start using Manna solutions.
The price of a BSF insect farm with Manna container designs depends on the country where it is being set up, as the materials and equipment used can vary. A rough estimate for one container is about $18,000 USD, excluding insect trays and pre- and post-processing equipment. The initial investment for a 4+1 pilot farm is around $100,000 USD. This setup allows you to be fully independent of BSF eggs and you can process around 35 to 40 tons of organic waste per month.
Two months is a good rule of thumb. The lead time depends on the country and the availability of the equipment – in some cases everything can be bought locally, in some cases shipments from abroad can be needed. But in a typical case the lead time has been two months from the order.

BSF larvae related questions

Depending how you do egg collection (e.g. with scraping) and nursing, you can expect 80-90% survival rate to larvae in good conditions.
In practice BSF is optimal for animals, fertiliser and bio-oil cases, and maybe some medical or special applications, but not for human consumption. There are other species more suitable for that (like mealworms and crickets).
Live larvae are more nutritious (if we are comparing the same amount of protein, not based on weight) than dried larvae. Often the best option is to use live larvae straight as animal feed. In some cases this is not possible though, and then drying is needed. Dried larvae are also easier to store and transport.
We recommend reading UN and FAO guidance for black soldier fly larvae. However to our knowledge BSF is very friendly and does not cause disruption to the ecosystem as it doesn’t spread any diseases. We don’t know any countries that have forbidden usage of BSF.
This is not a major issue or concern. In general the rearing and breeding process should be well established. In warm countries there are always flies that will escape during the process, but they should not cause any harm to the ecosystem.
We are not aware of any, but we urge you to check publications about this topic.
We are not aware of any problems related to such a scenario, even if in some countries the legislation prevents using manure as a substrate for larvae that is used as animal feed.
Chickens and other animals have a very long history with eating insects without any issues, so in that sense the alkaline nature should be no problem. Bigger issue can be the possible toxins in the substrate.
In general we’d say that larvae can cover most of the diet but not 100 %. BFS larvae are already used in the pet food industry, especially in dog food, mixed with other ingredients.

Organic waste / substrate recipe and handling

In general, substrates that have high protein, carbohydrate and fat content are the best. Then it is about finding an optimal moisture level (around 65-80%) and keeping it as long as larvae are eating.
We recommend starting with too little food (i.e. 5 kg) and too much larvae (i.e. 12,000 5-7dol). In this setup the larvae should easily finish the food within 10 days. Then you can start adding more food until 8 kg is reached, which after you start decreasing the number of larvae. You will typically end up around 7-8 kg for 8,000 to 10,000 larvae depending on the nutritional value of the substrate.
This depends on the nutritional content of the manure, but for example chicken manure is typically a very good substrate for the larvae.

This is something that depends very much on what kind of biomass you are using and where it comes from. The most optimal way is to have the containers next to a biomass source (or storage) which produces enough substrate for the containers that you have and you can use it in batches, up to 4 ton per container in each 10 day breeding cycle.

The standard process is to load each container full at once and then run the 10 day breeding cycle, but it’s also possible to load it during three consecutive days and then start the cycle. For example, if you have roughly 1 ton of biowaste every day, you fill one container within 3 days (1tn+1tn+1tn) and then start the rearing cycle. For a continuous process you’d need 4 breeding containers.

There is no point in that, other than learning and practising scalable rearing and breeding while we can really use the non-usable biowaste.

A good conversion rate (from wet biomass to wet live larvae) is 5:1 or 6:1, so you can get about 150-200 kg live larvae from 1,000 kg of manure (or other biowaste).

We have been testing all kinds of substrates, and in general BSFL happily eat pretty much anything organic, as long as the moisture level is favourable. However, for the process to be most efficient, the substrate should be as homogeneous as possible. This means that in case of several different sources of biowaste, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the recipe of the substrate; how to mix the waste and how to keep it homogenous.

In the batch model biowaste is not added on a daily basis, so storing the waste is needed and enables mixing different waste components. Without further information and analysis of the waste we can’t comment on the composition of the end product, but it’s clear that the quality of the substrate affects the composition / nutritional value of the final product.

When loading the container, the substrate needs to be moist, but not wet, so that the larvae will survive and start eating. During the rearing process, the moisture content is automatically monitored and the Manna MIND unit adjusts the environment in the container so that the moisture level (as well as temperature, CO2 levels and so on) are optimal throughout the rearing cycle.
In general we always recommend such biowaste sources that come from near you, are free or affordably priced and are available constantly, around the year if possible.
This depends a bit on the composition and quality of the biowaste, but as a general rule of thumb, when running the container in full capacity, 3,5 tons of biowaste is loaded to one 20ft container per each 10-14 days rearing cycle. However, it’s also possible to run the container with smaller batches of course, depending on the amount of biowaste (or BSF eggs) available.
We haven’t tested this substrate ourselves, but see no reason why larvae wouldn’t also consume champost, when mixed with other biowaste sources (not 100 %) to reach an optimal recipe.
Again, we haven’t tested this ourselves, but we’ve seen papers on using wine making residue and grapes. Testing is the key to finding the optimal substrate recipe.
These for sure would be high-nutrient level food for BSF and the yields would most probably be great, but it’s hard to see why you’d use these plants as substrate for BSF instead using them straight as animal feed. Of course any leftovers could be mixed with other sources of biowaste and use it as substrate.
To put it short, yes. When using meat as a substrate, you need to take into consideration that larvae can’t eat the bones.

The biowaste price can vary greatly depending on the country and the source. In general developed countries have more restrictive legislation that increases the price of the substrate. The price often also highly depends on the logistics – the closer the biowaste comes from, the cheaper the transportation costs are. In some cases biowaste can be totally free too, and it’s even possible that the BSF the farmer is paid for receiving and processing biowaste.

In the webinar we gave three rather extreme examples of the pricing; in western context 40 $ per ton, in Asian context 5 $ per ton and in African context 3 $ per ton.

Frass / organic fertiliser

The value of frass has been under evaluated for many years, but it clearly has great value as fertiliser. In some cases, fertiliser can have more value than the larvae. Frass can be a major business opportunity actually, and for some customers it even makes sense to mix the post processed larvae in the fertiliser, instead of using it as a feed product (for example if the substrate and legislation is such that the larvae can’t be utilised as animal feed).

The price of frass and frass products varies a lot depending on the scenario and the end customer, as well as the post-processing level / the end product. The quality and therefore also the average price for BSF frass varies significantly due to a number of factors, but we’ve collected frass prices for our database from publicly available sources from companies and individuals who sell BSF frass directly to end users online (retail, not wholesale), meaning that the prices below are NOT comparable to the price you would get when selling in masses (to big clients who buy tons of frass at a time). In Europe the average price for frass when sold in small bags was 1 538 euros per ton, in the US 11 919 euros per ton, in Asia 6740 euros per ton and in Kenya 373 euros per ton.

Read more about frass and the pricing of it in our article about frass as a business opportunity.

Rearing and breeding processes

Based on our experience, the batch model is a more effective option. It also reduces the workload, since you don’t need to touch the container during the rearing cycle.
Manna MIND unit controls all conditions inside the container automatically and in real-time, also lights.
The rearing process has a smell depending on the substrate and recipe. The container keeps the smell within fairly efficiently, but the ventilation will exhaust it outside. There is a smell around the container, so it is recommended to be in a space where smell is not an issue close by. There is a possibility to add a filter to the exhaust ventilation pipe outside the container to reduce the smell.
You can add the dead flies either to your frass as fertiliser, or then post-process to chitin/chitosan. Dead flies have high quantities of chitin and protein, so can be valuable as well, but not as is.
When rearing BSF in containers equipped with a Manna MIND unit that creates an optimal growing environment, the cleaning part is not a problem. When the substrate recipe / moisture level is right, the frass is basically dry and the larvae are clean at the end of the rearing cycle. This means that you don’t need to clean the tray before loading the container again.
The output is highly dependent on the substrate that you use, but as example figures we typically talk about around 550 kg of live BSF larvae and around 850 kg of frass per one 10-14 days rearing cycle (with roughly 3500 kg biowaste substrate). But as said, the output ratio between larvae and frass depends on the biowaste, and we have seen much bigger amounts of larvae per cycle, when the biowaste has been of good quality. When the substrate recipe / moisture level is right, the frass is basically dry and the larvae are clean, so there is no extra water at the end of the rearing cycle.
All the presented numbers are based on real scenarios. We have shown quite extreme examples of high-end and low-end scenarios, and your use case can be anywhere between them.
Both are an option. With one Manna breeding container, you can produce enough eggs to support four rearing containers. This option often is more cost-efficient than buying eggs or 5-7 DOLs, but in some cases, when the price is right and the logistics are easy, it makes more sense to buy the eggs. Furthermore, it can be a profitable business to sell the (extra) eggs that you have produced in a Manna container.
The first container can be a multi-use hybrid container, where you can test both rearing and breeding processes, including nursing. We have a separate container solution for breeding, so you can produce your own eggs if buying eggs or 5-7 DOLs is not a feasible / cost-efficient option. Typically, the nursing part is done in the breeding container too.

Pre- and post-processing

We have just crushed the biowaste and tested different particle sizes for it. You could probably do fermentation in some cases also.
Utilising BSF oil is a very new business, and we don’t have much experience on this topic. First of all, de-fatting the larvae requires investments on the processing equipment, and it’s hard to comment on the profitability of this. In general, based on our knowledge, when operating on a small scale, the less you process the larvae, the more cost-efficient the process can be. However, we have seen some use cases of utilising the oil, for example in cosmetics, but as said, we don’t have our own experience of selling BSF oil.
Based on our experience, the best way is to find a way to use the larvae alive, as chicken feed for example. It’s also an option to dry it, and for that there are different options, for example drum drying. It’s important to scale the investment on the equipment with your production capacity and potential profit, and you should also use a cruelty-free method for killing the larvae. High temperature makes the process quick, but then again you’d need to make sure that the nutritional value of the larvae doesn’t suffer too much in the process. Furthermore, the requirements for processing the larvae typically come from the customers side.
Yes, it’s not necessary to de-fatten the larvae after drying, but you need to consider that if the fat content of the product is high, the shelf-life is shorter.
It would be most optimal to use the frass as it is, but there may be legislation restricting the use, depending on the country. For example in EU countries frass should be heat-treated in 70C for one hour before using it. Other processing depends on the customers requirements and intended use. We don’t sell any post-treatment equipment, but can support our customers with finding suitable equipment options.
The pupa skeletons can simply be, and often are, grinded as part of the frass. There are some cases where farmers have used them as chicken feed, and they could also be composted. The amount of the exuviae is relatively small, and we are not aware of any actual business cases of shipping such small amounts for further processing. Furthermore, the skeletons are possible raw materials for bio plastics, but the potential business case of selling / shipping them is very case specific and more studies are needed around the topic.
In some cases the fermentation process can increase the nutritional value of the biowaste substrate, and thus increase the yield of the rearing process. On the other hand, it is an extra step that increases the costs, so you’d really need to evaluate the potential benefits.

Business model related questions

We have reared and bred ourselves in an urban setting in Finland. The use cases can be to deliver live larvae to nearby chicken growers or to post process for pet food. Frass can be post processed and sold even locally in stores.
We have several customer projects all over the world and we are learning the best practices with them now. In the near future we will have a very detailed knowledge base with data and also an analysis of how processes are running in real-life.
Decentralised model is meant to be built close to a biowaste source and for the amount of biomass that is produced in a month. Compared to centralised facilities, in our modular and decentralised solution there is no need to transport biowaste far or not at all, and also power consumption per container is minimal. In a decentralised model the investment costs are low (infra, land, buildings, machines) and running the containers doesn’t require much labour hours. But of course the capacity is limited, so if the amount of biowaste in one source is huge (let’s say hundreds of tons per month) processing it in small containers is no longer a profitable option compared to the centralised way.

For a thorough answer to this question, please go through our article series about the benefits of BSF based feed compared to soy feed. As a short answer, BSF feed is or can be more sustainable and more cost-efficient, and the nutritional value and amino acid profile of BSFL is great.

Furthermore, BSF larvae are easy to rear and have a high yield, but only require minimal land area. Using BSFL also reduces the competition with human food, since at the moment huge majority of soy production is used as animal feed, but the use of soybean in human consumption is expected to grow.

The BSF business is still very young globally, and at this point there is no clear market price yet, at least not a global one. Also at the regional level the prices can vary greatly. There are not many studies on how many kilos of live larvae would you need to feed to a chicken to replace one kilo soy meal.

An estimation based on research is that it is between 2-3 kilos. 2,5 kilos of live larvae compared to one kilo of soymeal would mean that price is around the same level, or little bit less for the live larvae, especially in developing countries. In some areas the business is more lucrative than others, as also the price of soy varies.

The real competition is against other protein sources, such as soya. You need to be price competitive and understand the market situation. The pricing is very different when BSF protein is used as chicken feed or for example in the high-end pet food industry.
When operating on a small scale and modular way, it’s important to be as local and flexible as possible. BSF larvae don’t expire immediately, and there are many ways that you can extend the lifespan of them. Dried larvae is of course preferred due to higher nutritional / weight content, but then again you need to calculate the investment on processing equipment. Eventually, it’s up to your customer’s needs, whether live or dried larvae is preferred.


One Manna container consumes on average less than 1 kWh of electricity, even in cold conditions, and only around 0,6 kWh in tropical environments. Proper insulation gives a huge advantage in both cold and warm weather conditions. You can also use solar panels or other renewable energy sources to run Manna containers.
Yes. If biowaste recycling is compared to e.g. biogas plants, then larvae can reduce 50% of the CO2 emissions, and then replacing soy meal will save 4-6 CO2tn per ton of produced larvae.

Legislation and restrictions

This depends on the country and legislation. There are areas where this is possible (typically in developing countries). But larvae happily eat even manure, so it is mainly restricted by the legislation. In many developed countries the legislation is constantly opening up to new substrates that are allowed, so we recommend talking to local authorities about possibilities.
Unfortunately this is very hard to explicitly answer without knowing all circumstances. We recommend starting at a small scale so that you can test and verify all options and different customers, and learn to post-process efficiently and in a way the quality (nutritional level) doesn’t suffer.
Feeding the BSF larvae with such raw materials that can be used as animal feed doesn’t add much value to the food chain, and in general we’d say that BSF is the best option especially in such cases where there aren’t other cost-efficient options available. So yes, using post-consumption waste or even manure is a value-adding option, but in each case requires understanding of the local legislation and regulations regarding the possibilities to use the final products.
We don’t want our customers to take any unnecessary risks, and in general trying to bend the rules doesn’t sound like a good idea. Instead, you should try to find a business case that follows the legislation, and one that is cost-efficient and beneficial.