Cocoons vs worms to start with, and how many per cocoon?

beebiz1960(6)March 4, 2009


Let me begin by saying that I have enjoyed reading the posts here. And, though I don't have any worms yet, I intend to get some very soon. But, I am having trouble deciding how I want to start out. So, I was hoping that I could get some input from you all that would help me make up my mind!

I want a good sized worm for both fishing and for composting. I intend to keep my worms in a inside container (18 gallon Rubber Maid type). I don't want to have to continually fight to keep the worms from going on vacation! From what I have read on the internet, the European Nightcrawlers seem to be the best choice to fulfill my desires and needs. But, there is something about the Europeans that I would like to know.

In my research about worms, I have read that cocoons from both the Red Worm (Eisenia fetida) and the African Nightcrawler (Eudrilus eugeniae) produce between 1 and 7 babies. But, I have found little information about how many babies the European Nightcrawlers' (Eisenia hortensis) cocoon produce. As a matter of fact, I've only found one site that offered such information. According to that site, the cocoons from the European Nightcrawlers only produces 1 baby.

Can any of you offer any information at to wheter or not this is true? If it is not true, how many babies should each cocoon produce?

Finally, if given the opportunity to purchase... say... 1000 cocoons for the same price as a pound of worms (speaking mainly of the European nightcrawlers), which would you choose? And, why?

Thanks in advance for any information you can offer!!


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Take the worms!!
(Even if you were to get 10.000 cocoons at the same price as a pound of worms.)

Your 1000 cocoons might not all hatch immediately (they can sit around for ages before hatching) and may only produce one or two worms per cocoon. They will then take several weeks to reach maturity and start producing their own cocoons.
I'm not sure of the general figures, but I reckon my ENC's (european night crawlers = eisenia hortensis)come in at about 250- 400 worms to the pound.

Also, I've had 100 worms (between a quarter half a pound of ENC's) in a separate bin for ten days and I've just gone to look at the cocoons. In about a quarter of the bin I could easily find over twenty cocoons.(and that's at temps below 50 F so they're not at their most frisky.)

ENC's do not breed as fast as eisenia foetida which put rabbits to shame, but I reckon your one pound of ENC's, in ideal conditions, could shed 1000 cocoons in under a month!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 4:20PM
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hi beebiz1960! Basiclly it makes no difference in worms vs cocoons except in about 90 days with the cocoons you will probibly have 4 t0 5 times as many worms. Yes you have to keep the cocoons at a warm temp and moist and allow the hatchlings to grow. Ehs and Efs are closely related species of worms and preform very similarly. Ehs are a little larger. the other benifit to ordering cocoons is that worms survive better in the habitat they are born(hached)in. the shipping and different environment can have some detrimental effects on worms already grown. so chech all the pros and cons of each method and do the one you are most comfortable with.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 7:15AM
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Thanks for the input from both of you!

Since my original post, I found a web site that says that cocoons from the EN's usually have a hatch rate of 81% and usually average 1.2 worms per cocoon. Please don't ask where the site is. Just before I bookmarked it, the power flickered, and I lost the site. ;>( If I can find it again, I'll be glad to share it with those who are interested.

Anyway, I did some figuring. I used a 75% hatch rate and only 1 worm per hatched cocoon. It wouldn't be long until the population in a bin started with 1000 cocoons would surpass the number in the bin started with 1 pound of bed run worms. Of course, that's making an assumption that nothing really bad goes wrong! But, from what I've read, things can go really bad wrong in a bin started with worms as well!!

BTW, lkittle... are you also a member of another certain garden forums that has a vermicomposting area? Just curious!


    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 5:57PM
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is this the link you were after?

Here is a link that might be useful: e. hortensis (european nightcrawler)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 6:34PM
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Thanks, cathd66!! That sure was the site that I got my info from!! And, it is now safely bookmarked!!

I was off a little in my numbers. Earlier, I said that cocoons would produce an average of 1.2 babies each. But, Kelly says it is only 1.1 babies per cocoon. When doing my figuring, I still only counted 1 baby per cocoon. And, I only allowed for 1 cocoon per breeding adult per week. Kelly says each breeding adult will produce 1.6 cocoons per week.

So, I still feel that the numbers I used were within reason... again, baring anything really bad happening.

Thanks again for the help!!


    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 7:16PM
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Allow growth times for worms too- I have about 2000 EF cocoons which I produced in various containers and separated out after Christmas. They are hatching (I have them indoors at about 22 deg C, 70F) but although I probably have about 200-300 babies so far, they are only about 1/4 inch long and would only weigh an ounce or two in total. If even that. So they don't consume very much waste for me! But by summer, I expect they'll be chomping furiously!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:41AM
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Hi beebiz1960; I belong to several vermicomposting sites as lkittle and have posted lots of pics and info on worms observed in my worm house. I have Efs, Ehs, Wildworms and Lts. The Wildworms have 4+ species that came from the county I live in just picked up in composting hay chaf.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:44AM
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Hi All; I am just clarifing that if the cocoons are the type that has a coating on them the bulk of the weight is in the coating. 1# of actal cocooms would be in the 10s of thousands and even if a few were to die before reaching adulthood cocoons with no coating would outnumber worms by 10-20 times. The draw back is it takes 90+ days for them to start breeding. One of the pluses is worms that hatch in the bedding would survive easier. A couple of pros and cons of worming.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 7:08AM
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cathd66, I didn't forget to factor in the hatching time or the growing time when I did my originial calculations. I even figured these times at the high end of the average times.

lkittle, I understand what you are saying about the coating being counted as part of the weight. But, since these cocoons are sold by the 1000 count, I don't see that coating (or no coating) would factor in; unless the coating would hinder the hatch or increase the time needed for hatch.

Worms or cocoons to start with... they each seem to have their pros and their cons. And, checking the pros against the cons has yet to help me make up my mind which way I want to start.

I would like to have some worms to fish with around the last of April or first of May. But, my life won't end if I don't have them!

After careful cogitation about the subject, I am seriously considering buying a pound of EN worms and 1000 EN cocoons! That way, I can kind of have my cake and eat it too!!

If I go this route, would you suggest putting them all in the same bin? Or, would you suggest putting worms in one bin and cocoons in another? I guess that I could put each in their own bin... kind of as an experiment. That way, I could see which way works out best, huh??

Thanks again for all of your input!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:02PM
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BTW, lkittle, I am a member of another forum that I think you are a member of. I just joined yesterday. There, I go by "beebiz" without the "1960." I've enjoied your reading your posts there! ;>)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:07PM
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Hi beebiz1960; Thanks for the encouragement on posting sometimes we take for granted that folks read all the forums. I just don't care to repeat post on all the forums. I try to give question specific info if I have it. Each forum has a few only members. I see folks looking at all the forums more and more.

In my opinion cocoons by the count is actually sort of expensive. On the other forum I done an experiment with burlap to get cocoons to sell and found that with 700 hundred cocoons they only still weighed only in at .8 oz. That led me to thinking a pound of cocoons would be hatching thousands of worms and 3 months later they would be producing lots of cocoons. I found this to be true in my COW(Can of Worms) units. In 8-9 months they produced 6# of surplus worms leaving 2# in each COW unit. The other interesting thing was they were almost even in biomass even though one was Efs and the other Ehs.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 4:46PM
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Hey lkittle,

WOW... that's impressive to me! I would love to find a source for a pound of cocoons... if I could afford them, that is! But, I've looked all over the internet, and haven't found a source for them. The places that I have found only offer them in 1000 count quantities. And, 1000 cocoons are the same price, or slightly cheaper than a pound of bed run worms. If you know of a source for the cocoons by the pound, and would feel comfortable doing so, I would appreciate you emailing the information to me. You can contact me at: beebiz "at" charter "dot" net.

Thanks for your information!!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Hi beebiz1960 the link below sells by the pound they started to encapsule I see by just visiting the site and their a little expensive too!

Here is a link that might be useful: cocoon sorce#

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 8:20PM
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Hi lkittle,

Thanks for the link. I checked them out. But, the $174.02 (including shipping) for 5 pounds of cocoons is quite a bit more than I can afford to spend on them. I think I'd better stick with a much smaller quantity and less investment. That way, maybe I won't have to leave home if things go horribly wrong!! :>0

But, thanks again,

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 8:55PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I found a site called and they sell cocoons, 750 for $25 plus shipping. I called and a lady thought they were European Nightcrawlers. She told me they ship from the breeder and recommended that I wait to order until the environment is ready to hatch; for me outside in May or when the day temps reach 70 degrees and the nights are above 50.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 3:02PM
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