Q. How much organic material do earthworms eat daily?
A. Earthworms will generally eat 1/2 their own weight daily. Half of
everything they eat turns into viable plant food(earthworm castings)
which is directly assimilated.
Q. How many earthworms are there per pound?
A. The average pound of red worms will contain between 800 - 1200 earthworms at various stages of development.
Q. What kinds of worms are there?
A. There a number of species of worms depending on climate, location
and soil conditions. The main types that we are focused on are EISENIA
foetida or Red Worm (we call our worms Red Wigglers)
Q. Will an earthworm die if you cut it in half?
A. Yes and ouch!!
Q. Could I use farm grown worms in an outdoor garden or will they not survive in the wild?
A. The Redworm is a very aggressive worm in that if a quality food
source is available and the worm can get to it the worm will multiply
Q. Does a worm have teeth?
A. No. The mouth and pharynx are highly muscular, but they do not contain teeth.
Q. Do worms need air?
A. Worms require gaseous oxygen from the air. The oxygen diffuses
across their moist skin tissue from the region of greater concentration
of oxygen (the air) to that of lower concentration (inside the worm).
When water has been sufficiently aerated, worms have been known to live
under water for a considerable length of time. Carbon dioxide produced
by the bodily processes of the worm also diffuses through its moist
skin. Also moving from higher concentration to lesser concentration,
carbon dioxide moves from inside the worm's body out into the
surrounding bedding. A constant supply of fresh air throughout the
bedding helps this desirable exchange of gases take place.
Q. How long does a worm live?
A. Most wild worms probably live and die within the same year. Especially in
the field, most species are exposed to hazards such as dryness, weather
that is too cold or too hot, lack of food, or predators. In culture,
individuals of Eisenia foetida have been kept as long as six and a
half years, and some Lumbricus terrestris have lived even longer
Q. I’ve got bugs in my worm bin. What
should I do?
A. Absolutely nothing! Bugs, big and little, are
what makes the decomposition happen. Tiny flies
and ants can be pesky, see following questions.
got millions of tiny flies. What do I do? A. The tiny flies are vinegar flies, which look just
like fruit flies. The first line of defense is
to bury food scraps completely. Also, make
sure you are not feeding too heavily (more than a quart
per week per square foot). If you still have
problems, try feeding less fruit, which is the main
attractant. Here are some ideas for putting any
extra food scraps to good use: Homemade
Food Scrap Composter and Burying Food
Remember that flies don’t bother the worms,
and they will be less bothersome to you if your worm
bin is outside, away from people. As a last resort,
cover your food scraps with a light (one-quarter inch)
layer of soil, then a layer (2 - 4 inches) of brown
material (leaves or shredded newspaper).
Q. There are ants in my worm bin. What should I do?
A. Ants are usually an indication that the material in
the bin is too dry. To encourage them to leave
the bin, moisten and turn it or stir it with a trowel
to disrupt their colonies.
If there are many ants in the vicinity, they may return
to the worm bin. You can exclude the worms by
putting the worm bin on blocks of wood and setting
the blocks in dishes of water. Nurseries sell
various products that create a sticky barrier the ants
will not be able to cross.
If you don’t want to go to that much trouble,
take heart! The ants don’t bother the worms
and they actually benefit the composting process by
bringing fungi and other organisms into their nests. The
work of ants can make worm compost richer in phosphorus
and potassium by moving minerals from one place to
Q. I had a worm bin but my worms died. What did I
do wrong? A. First of all, don’t be discouraged. A
worm bin is a biological system and it may take more
than one try to get it right. Make sure you have
the right kind of bedding material and
it is as moist as a
wrung out sponge.
Remember that worms need oxygen too! Worms can easily
be drowned if the worm bin is left outside during a
rain, or from feeding too many food scraps without
adding bedding to offset the moisture.
Another cause of worm death is overfeeding, which
can result in the food heating up in the bin (hot composting),
killing the worms as temperatures climb above 90 degrees
Make time to attend
a Hands-On Wormshop! Master
Composters will get you started off on the right
For More Information Books:
Worms Eat My Garbage, 1982, or Worms Eat Our Garbage, 1993 (Classroom activities). Mary Applelhof, Flower Press, Kalamazoo, MI, 100 pp.
Let It Rot! The Home Gardeners Guide to Composting, 1975. Stu Campbell, Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT, 144 pp.
The Rodale Book of Composting, 1992, Grace Gershuny, St. Martins Press, New York, NY, 278 pp.