DIY Tumber – Revisited

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote about my DIY compost tumbler. Truth be told, until recently the system has basically sat idle. Same old, same old with me – lots of stuff on the go, so I inevitably end up focused on other things.

Well, for whatever reason it caught my attention not too long ago, and I decided to start adding lots of shredded cardboard and food waste to see what would happen. It seemed to take a LOT of material, and I must say I was very pleased to see it turning every bit as nicely as when I first constructed it (when I say “I”, you should should assume that means me and my dad – my trusty DIY amigo! lol) – even with the heavy load.

While I usually recommend that people DON’T use tumblers as worm bins (often not an ideal habitat – especially when being turned regularly and/or when sitting in a sunny location), it’s safe to say that if there were worms in this one they’d be thriving! It contains some beautiful potential-worm-food – plus it’s located in a shady corner of the yard so I don’t think it ever would have ended up too hot anyway. We’re getting a bit late in the season now for fun (outdoor) experiments (other than my upcoming winter composting bed, that is! lol), but perhaps I will actually try it out as a vermicomposting system next year just for kicks and giggles!

There are certainly plenty of other critters in the tumbler, including what I’m thinking might be some form of northern Soldier Fly. If I was going to name these, I’d call them “Yellow Soldier Flies” – and I should mention that a quick Google image certain turned up some photos that definitely look like the adults I’ve seen. They seem fairly common near my outdoor composting systems during the warmer months of the year, and I’ve been finding the larvae and pupae in the tumbler as well (interestingly enough, there are only pupae in there now).

At the risk of revealing my inner invertebrate geek (believe it or not I actually identified aquatic invertebrates for a living once upon a time), the pupae definitely exhibit features of family Stratiomyidae, so I think I’m at least on the right track with my ID (if any of you BSFL experts out there know of other related varieties please feel free to chime in).

Perhaps I should bring a bunch of the pupae indoors and see if I can get some adults. Would be really interesting to see if the larvae are anywhere near as voracious as the Black Soldier Flies.

By the way – this recent interest in my tumbler reminded me about my “DIY Compost Tumblers” info package (a product of mine that was previously advertised on this site), and I ended up bundling it in with my VermBin Plans Package as a free bonus. Just a bit more incentive to get involved, if you haven’t joined already!

**For Even More Worm Fun, Sign Up for the RWC E-mail List!**
Previous Post

Worm Food Myth

Next Post

Horse Treats & Potato Peels & Banana Peels?


  1. “Perhaps I should bring a bunch of the pupae indoors and see if I can get some adults.” Yes please do that! I would be very interested to see what you have.

    As for other types of Soldier Flies there is the ‘Garden Soldier Fly’ which whose larvae seem to act identical to Black Soldiers Fly larvae in compost piles based on reports from Australia. The flies have large rear legs but the larvae appear identical to BSFL.

    There is also another similar type that has been reported in South Africa. IIRC the larvae are slight smaller but do love compost/waste.

  2. Here’s some info on the Garden Soldier Fly Exaireta spinigera on the Royal BC Museum – Aliens Amoung Us site (link)

    • Bentley
    • September 28, 2012

    The adults definitely look a lot more like Ptecticus trivittatus (which actually IS known as a Yellow Soldier Fly as it turns out! lol):

    • Bentley
    • September 28, 2012

    Although…the size mentioned on one of those pages is way off! Definitely a lot bigger than “6-7mm” (more like “17 mm”).

  3. Throw a few of those pupa in a jar with wood shavings or sawdust and get your camera ready.

    • wiredds
    • October 1, 2012

    Reading your tumbler post makes me laugh. Just build the VB 24, actually my dad with better skills build it! Will start transferring some worms from the two worm inns over and hopefully will be able to process a ton of pumpkins come end of October.

    • Grady from Louisiana
    • October 3, 2012

    I have no clue what you have there. But you are right the pupa do look BSF but not so.
    I am actually looking at building at least one of these tumblers in the next few months.

  4. Bentley did you ever see any adults eclose from the pupa?

    • Bentley
    • July 10, 2013

    Quick update on the “Yellow Soldier Fly” front. As I wrote in my most recent (as I type this) blog post, I got some help from Dr. Marshall at University of Guelph, and it seems these flies are indeed Ptecticus sp. (likely Ptecticus trivittatus).
    Now I just need to see how effective their larvae are when it comes to munching wastes!

  5. Thanks Bentley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Your Free Vermicomposting Guide!

* Join the Red Worm Composting E-Mail List Today *