Controlling Pests In Earthworm Beds
IT HAS BEEN ESTIMATED THAT 93% OF WORM BIN OWNERS WILL EXPERIENCE A WORM BIN PROBLEM TO SOME DEGREE.
Small Fruit Flies - (Drosophila)
In most cases, small fruit flies are the premier complaint when it comes to flies around your earthworm beds and farm. To keep these annoying little flying bugs from bothering you, here are 4 helpful pointers. I will be discussing other pest problems found in worm bins and how to remedy them later within this article. But for now;
4 Fruit Fly Preventative Measures
- Make a trap for the flies. A shallow dish filled about half-way with apple cider vinegar mixed with 2 drops of liquid dish soap makes a great trap. The flies will go after the scent of the cider, falling into the liquid and ending their lives and your annoying fly problem.
Vacuum the bins. Using a small car vac or hose attachment on your vacuum to remove the flies may sound a bit crazy, but you will think otherwise when the flies are gone after only one sweep of the sucker!
Bury the food scraps. As their name would depict, fruit flies love the scent of rotting fruit. By burying the fruit effectively, these tiny flies won't be as drawn to the bin as the smell will be subdued.
Place a cover on your bins. If you don't have an actual lid that fits your bins, then lay newspaper, carpet scraps, fine mesh screen or even plastic sheets on top of them. (Whatever material you decide to use, be certain that enough air can get to the bins, your worms need air to live just like you do.)
What are some of the Natural enemies of earthworms?
- Armadillos (found in Southern United States)
Controlling Most Natural Earthworm Enemies
By regularly feeding, turning, watering and using lime, you can control most of the natural enemies of your redworms (earthworms). Keeping the surrounding area where your worm bins are located clean and tidy will do a huge service in helping with this task. Keeping the grass and weeds cut can help as well, and you can compost and use the cuttings for bedding or feed.
These pest listed (see blue highlighted area at right) can be controlled by not allowing debris and trash to build up near where your worm bins are located. Some worm growers use traps and natural organic deterrents placed around the exterior of the earthworm beds. A rat proof mesh has proven to be effective against the troublesome vermin. Birds can be discouraged by putting up scarecrows or owl figures or by simply covering the the top of the bedding (remember to allow for air flow to your worms if you decide to cover your beds).
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Keeping Rats Out of worm Beds
Serious Concerns About Worm Bin Insect Invaders
The more serious concerns surround insect enemies that will eat the same food that you have so carefully supplied to your worms. A few of these food stealing insects are ants, centipedes, spring-tails and mites. A small amount of insecticide sprinkled around the outside of the worm beds will act as an invisible shield against such pests. Some worm growers have recommended spraying a very light coat of insect spray (the kind with a black flag on the can for household insects) on the top of the worm bed. The theory is that even as this light coat may not kill the adult pests, it will interrupt the natural life cycle of the up and coming eggs and larva, preventing any maturation of the next generation. I have reservations about this method. If you decide to use it, be certain to wear protective gear and be aware that should you get too large of a concentration of any insecticide in the worm bedding, you can potentially damage the worms or worm cocoons. A good rule of thumb to operate under is this; anything that is poisonous to humans may be poisonous to earthworms.
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Limestone and Worm Bin Health
Limestone for Less Acidic Beds
Using powdered limestone (calcium carbonate) can keep your worm beds near a neutral pH, helping to prevent an overly acidic situation. The majority of the insects that regularly invade worm beds prefer to live in higher acidic conditions. By maintaining a neutral pH in your worm bedding, most of the insects that invade your beds should avoid the lower acidic environment the limestone provides.
Powdered lime comes in several forms and most are used problem free; however, hydrated lime or builders lime is on the caustic side so it is not recommended for use in your worm beds. Some of the top worm experts feel that using lime consistently produces bigger and healthier worms because it cures most of the ailments that can affect your earthworms.
A few good hunters on a worm farm are a good idea
A dry worm makes for dead worms!
It's a Game of Cat & Mouse
If you have a couple of outside cats that enjoy hunting rodents, they can become your worm bed sentries and make a real difference in the number of moles, shrews, rats and mice found around your earthworms. And with your feline guards around, it would take a pretty tenacious bird to start digging around in your worm beds.
Monitoring Your Wormbed Moisture
Moisture is critical to a successful and healthy worm bin. But too much moisture can bring with it its own problems. "Soured feed" and a high mite population are common problems caused by allowing your worm bedding to get too much water. Having good drainage in your beds is of major importance and must be in place to prevent soggy beds. On the other hand, a bed that is too dry is an invitation for an ant invasion that will prevent your worms from feeding aggressively, and a healthy worm is a voracious eater. You should water according to the temperature variations that occur in your local area. Using a moisture meter to correctly determine the true water content of your worm beds is the best and most highly recommended measure to a balanced moisture level in your earthworm beds.
Although it is not a sign of a really healthy worm environment, it is difficult to prevent mold from sometimes growing on the surface of your worm beds. Normally mold isn't a problem for the production of redworms. You do need to be aware of its presence and discourage its growth by exposing the beds to a strong light source occasionally; the light source should destroy the mold in rapid form.