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Red Wiggler Worm Facts

Updated on May 10, 2017

Red Wiggler Worm Facts

Whether you want to grow food in containers, houseplants, or a garden full of food plants and ornamentals, every gardener extols the virtues of compost for plant health. But if you do not have the room or the time to make a traditional compost pile outside, worm composting takes almost no space, time, or money, and produces the highest quality of all compost. Here are some red wiggler worm facts.

Red worm castings contain beneficial microbes and nutrients necessary for almost any plant. A properly maintained red wiggler worm bin will not have any odor whatsoever. You can keep a bin in your house, basement, or garage, and it will take up only a few square feet of floor space.

How to Maintain Red Wiggler Worms

  • Red wigglers, with the scientific name of Eisenia fetida which is sometimes spelled E. foetida, are the best type of worms to use for compost bins. They thrive in the same conditions that humans can usually provide for them, at a temperature between 55° and 77°F.
  • You will not have to worry about repopulating your worm bin unless you have a disaster, and you will not have to worry about finding new homes for worms since red wiggler worms naturally regulate their own population according to the space and environment available. If you would like to give away or sell red wigglers, they will quickly recover their population.
  • Red wiggler worms will eat more food and be more active at the upper range of these temperatures and will eat less food and become less active at the lower range. When temperatures are above 85°, your worms will slow down and possibly die, and below 50°F they will become very inactive. At these times, you should feed your worms less food.
  • Worms must be kept in a moist environment since they breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide through their skin, but cannot do so if their skin is not moist. For the same reason, your compost bin must have good air circulation. Red wigglers will thrive in an environment that is as moist as a wrung out sponge.
  • Red wiggler worms cannot see, but they can sense light through specialized cells, and they will avoid all but red light. Red wigglers should be kept in a bin that excludes light. They also do not have teeth, so their gizzards grind up the food. Worms will benefit from adding grit to their bin, such as crushed egg shells or a cup of gritty garden soil. They will eat fibrous foods like potato peels, broccoli stalks, and carrot tops, but it will take them some time unless you grind or chop them into smaller pieces.
  • Red wiggler worms each have both male and female reproductive organs, but it still takes two to tango.
  • Reproduction can be stimulated by adding a calcium source such as crushed egg shells. A happy bin will reproduce about every month by laying eggs that are visible to the naked eye and look like small pears. The cocoons can survive in the soil for several years or even decades, and hatch better in slightly drier conditions than those in which the adults thrive.

At Home: Composting with red wigglers


What to Feed Red Wiggler Worms

  • Red wiggler worms are typically sold by the pound, which should contain about 1000 worms. For the few first month or two, they will eat about 1/4 to 1/2 their weight in food each day, but as they reproduce and become more acclimatized, they will eat their body weight or more in food each day.Red wiggler worms are typically sold by the pound, which should contain about 1000 worms. For the few first month or two, they will eat about 1/4 to 1/2 their weight in food each day, but as they reproduce and become more acclimatized, they will eat their body weight or more in food each day.
  • Red wiggler worms will eat anything organic that is broken up into small enough pieces, especially fruit and vegetable peelings, ground up egg shells, and coffee grounds and filters. You can feed them larger pieces of food, but it will take the worms longer to eat it and you will run the risk of causing an odor problem. Red wigglers will eat meat and dairy products, but you will risk attracting rodents and pests to your compost bin and may also cause an odor problem. Limit the amount of citrus, acidic foods, and oil you feed your worms since these will affect the pH of the bin and potentially kill off beneficial microbes.

  • You should provide your worms with bedding made out of shredded newspapers, shredded fallen leaves, shredded paper egg cartons, shredded toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and shredded plain brown cardboard. Shiny paper such as newspaper inserts and boxes covered with ink should not be fed to worms since these materials have chemicals that will harm or kill your worms. The bedding serves double duty as somewhere to bury your food scraps so that flies cannot find them and odors do not occur.
  • Separating red wiggler worm castings from the worms themselves is the most time-consuming and tedious part of keeping a red wiggler worm bin. By using the natural instincts of your worms, this process can be made much easier. For more red wiggler worm facts, such as how to harvest worm castings and make worm casting tea, see link.

Learn More About How to Use Worm Castings to Grow Highly Nutritious, Disease-free Plants That Do Not Attract Insects at How Grow High Brix Vegetables


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    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      This could make a great classroom project, Ahyu, thanks for commenting. Kids can learn a lot from worms, plus it will keep them interested.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Conrad,OK reading truhogh your other comments (I deleted one as pretty much the same questions) I have a solution for you.Since you are working with the kids at school and I know the schools have been getting more and more cut backs each year you might like to try this.First I would go with the and setup two buckets. This will give you ample worm castings for your garden and even allow you to use a seed spreader to broadcast over your grass. I would keep this inside either at home or in the classroom.Next, I would setup some red wigglers in a and keep outside in the shade. It will be important to keep them in the shade, especially during the summer as when the sun hits it, it will heat up and bake the worms.Now you have two options, either have the students families save their newspapers, cardboard, vegetable scraps and support the system and in return they get some harvested vermicompost from the red wiggler bin. Or the second option, you support the feed and involve the families in learning of the benefits of vermicompost and sell off to the families, hence making some money for school supplies, a day at the zoo .Hope this helps,Bruce


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