Phoenix Worm Enclosure
How To Build A Phoenix Worm Rearing Enclosure
Phoenix Worm Enclosure
Phoenix Worm Enclosure
In order to produce phoenix worms you will need to breed the black soldier fly. Our Phoenix Worm Care Sheet explains how the breeding process works and discusses the need for 2 housing units. You will be in need of an enclosure to house and rear the larvae of the soldier fly (phoenix worms) and that is what this self-harvesting enclosure is designed to help you with. You will also need another enclosure for the breeding soldier flies. You can find that information on our Black Soldier Fly Enclosure page.
These instructions will help you build a self-harvesting phoenix worm enclosure. The material required to build this set-up will differ from those seen in this tutorial. The concept for building this enclosure is the same regardless of what containment units you use.
1 - Large Plastic Tote With Lid
1 - Small Plastic Container
3 - 2' PVC Pipes (2" Diameter Works Well)
2 - PVC Elbows (2" Diameter To Fit Pipe)
1 - T Connector (2" Diameter To Fit Piper)
If you use a different size diameter for the PVC pipe, make sure that your elbows and T connector are all the same size and compatible.
Saw (Cutting PVC Pipe)
Razor Knife or Hole Saw Bit & Drill (Cutting Circles For PVC Pipe)
The first thing I did was channel 2 pieces of the PVC pipe. The channel, which can be seen below, is to prevent the worms from crawling on the outside of the pipe. I measured 12" and made a mark on the body of the pipe with a sharpie. (This was half of the pipes length.) I then cut halfway through the pipe using a jigsaw. You can use a handsaw if that is what you have available. I cut until I reached the 12" mark I made with the sharpie. I then cut into the pipe until I was able to remove the piece of cut PVC, leaving the channel that can be seen below.
Phoenix worms can climb. If you decide to not cut the channel, there is a chance that the worms could get onto the outside of the pipe. This will prevent them from making it into your catch basin. The channel will guide any worms that come over the side. It will then lead them into the pipe, around the elbow and they will harvest themselves by falling into your catch container.
To make the channel easier for the worms to grip, I used some course sandpaper and roughed the smooth surface up.
PVC Tote Holes
The next thing I did was take one of the PVC pipes I had just cut and I placed it where I wanted the holes to be that would lead to the catch basin. I marked the holes and used a hole saw bit to cut my openings. These 2 openings are at the same height on each side because we will be connecting these pipes.
Once my channels were cut and the receiving holes cut, I added the elbows to the freshly cut PVC pipes. Make sure your elbows are facing the right direction. You only want the elbows to be hand tight. There is no need to PVC glue as you will want to clean the pipes between batches.
PVC Elbow Installation
Now you will want to place the pipes into the receiving holes, with the elbows attached. This will be the easiest way to get the measurements you will need for the 2 pieces you will cut from the remaining PVC pipe. With the PVC pipes in place, measure the space between the 2 elbows (outside to outside) and add 3" to that number. (The 3" added is for the 1" of PVC that goes into the T connector and 1/2" that goes into the elbow. This is done on both sides, se we have 3" total.) Write this number down.
Now measure the length of your T connector and subtract that length from the number you wrote down. The remaining number should be divided by 2 and you now have the length of the 2 pieces you need to connect the elbows to the T connector.
Example (My Numbers)
Length between my elbows: 8" (I add 3" and now have 11")
The length of my T connector: 4.5"
11" - 4.5" = 6.5"
6.5" divided by 2 = 3 1/4", which is the length of my pieces.
PVC T Connector
You should now have your pieces cut. The image below is what you are trying to create.
PVC Drop Pipe
You should have a piece of PVC left over from the T connector cuts. This piece will be used for your drop pipe. I can't tell you how long to cut it. This will be determined by the length you need. The image below shows you what you should have now.
PVC T Connector Installation
In order to get the length you will need, you will need to install the T connector and the pieces you cut. Create the image below by sliding your tubes into the receiving holes, with the elbows facing inside and the channel facing up inside the tub. I prefer to shove the cut pieces into the T connector and then I inserted them into the elbow connectors.
Phoenix Worm Catch Basin
Stick the drop tub into the T connector and slide your catch basin beside it. Mark the drop tube so that there is 1" or more going "in" the catch basin. That is where you will want to cut the final piece of PVC. You will want to cut a receiving hole into the top of your catch basin. I chose to create a smaller footprint by turning my catch basin on its side and running it parallel to the tub. I then cut a hole in the center of the lid that was a 1/2" larger than the diameter of my pipe. The drop pipe can then be inserted into the T connector with the other end being inserted into my catch basin, as the image below depicts.
Phoenix Worm Enclosure Completed
Below is how your finished product should appear. You would fill the tub with enough compost or waste so that half the channel was covered. Simply toss your larvae in and add the cover. You have just created a self harvesting phoenix worm enclosure.
Modification - Note
You may wish to line the top inside edge of your tub with a Velcro strip. Since these worms can climb moist - humid surfaces (the moisture helps create a body vacuum that adheres them to the wall), this will prevent them from climbing out. Once they hit the strands of the Velcro, it will help force them to fall. You can also create a permanent lip around the inside edge if you like.
This unit was built to show others how to build one. I do not have an actual colony running. This system is used by composters who breed the black soldier fly so they can turn their compost piles into fertilizer at a much faster rate. They then use the larvae (phoenix worms) to feed to their chickens and fish. This is a proven D.I.Y system.
Author: Richard Brooks
Images - © Richard Brooks