I think Perionyx Excavatus have taken over

sbryce_gwApril 26, 2010

I was on another site looking at pictures of different critters that you might find in your worm bin. Just for giggles I looked at the section on perionyx excavatus. OK, it wasn't just for giggles. It has been a long time since I have seen the distinctive banding that characterizes EFs. EFs can change their coloring, depending on what you feed them, but my worms just haven't looked right.

So, here is a partial description:

# The Perionyx excavatus lacks the alternate light & dark banding of the E. fetida.


# The Perionyx excavatus clitellum covers segments 13-17 whereas the clitellum of the Eisenia Fetida covers segments 25-30

Well, my camera doesn't take real good close ups (or it does, but I don't) but I took a few pics and tried to count the segments. My worms' clitella start at segment 13.

# The Perionyx excavatus is considerably faster than the E. fetida.

I noticed that my worms seem a little faster than when I bought them.

# The Perionyx excavatus is much thinner than the E. fetida, thus making the P. excavatus much more difficult to use as a bait worm.

My worms seem to be a bit bigger than what I remember when I bought them. Isn't a typical EF 3 1/2 inches long? I have measured mine at 5 inches long. They don't appear to be any thinner.

Well, the clitellum nails it. I'm certain I started out with EFs, but it looks like I have PEs now.

What to do? I can start over. I can decide that I'm raising PEs now, I can get some EFs and try to keep them isolated.

I hate the thought of starting over, but I really wanted to raise EFs.

And this, BTW, could account for my unexplained die off. During the winter, as a cost saving measure, I was not heating the room where the worms are kept.

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I have a mix of EFs and PEs.

I hate the thought of committing vermicide, but we have a cold front moving in this week. If I leave the bins outside, the PEs won't survive. I probably have a lot of PE eggs, so I'll have to live with the fact that I have mixed species.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 1:09AM
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I now have to hold my worms close enough to my face to count segments?

If the PE's took over then maybe they are more suited for your system or climate?

Maybe the same thing is happening in my bins. I now need a ruler. Mine are wild caught. Mutts.

"And this, BTW, could account for my unexplained die off. During the winter, as a cost saving measure, I was not heating the room where the worms are kept." I don't know I can agree with that. The non happy worms are in a bin not a flowthrough? I think you have both.

I almost think that whatever is causing the few worms to be unhappy happens in most everybody's bin but goes unnoticed. I think because you are observant of bin conditions you are seeing what happens regularly that others are not. Thus you have a "problem" other people do not simple because they do not know about it. Possible?

If I had not dug through my bin top to bottom (twice a day? No.) I probably would never of known about my unhappy worms and maybe the one inch worm would of kicked the bucket and melted into oblivian and not of survived to be the one inch worm.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 1:14AM
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I have both, but the flowthrough is only about 1 1/2 months old.

As for being more observant, I was not the one who first noticed the dying worms. I was giving away a pound of worms and the person who came to take them first noticed the dying worms. That was back in February.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 1:21AM
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Not as good as the first eaten post but. Red Hen an excellent poster and worm farmer had the same thing happen to her. She had the sting of pearls effect happen. I highly doubt either of you were bad worm farmers and did something wrong. You were both scientific and knowledgeable about all aspects affecting the worms. In China baby milk was adulterated with melamine to make the protein content higher by cheeting the tests.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 1:45AM
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I'm going to have to take a look and see what I have then based on the clittelum placement. I suspect most people have mixed bins and do not know it if the similarity is that close.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:44PM
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I ran into an old Kelly Slocum post where she said that most people have mixed bins. OTOH, there are suppliers who claim that they have no PE in their bins.

The difference is hard to see sometimes. The bands on an EF aren't always obvious. If you take a close look, an EF has narrower segments, and the clitellum starts at segment 25. The PE has wider segments, and the clitellum starts at segment 13. Once you get used to seeing the difference, you don't need to count. The "nose" of a PE is pointier. The "nose" of an EF is rounder.

The EF is fatter, and the clitellum is more distinct. It is nearly impossible to tell the difference if there is no clitellum unless the banding is visible.

I seem to have a very healthy population of both. I may just have to accept that fact. But from what I am able to find on the net, PEs will eventually crowd out EFs. I don't want that happening. I started this to raise EFs.

I spent some time this AM sorting through my bins and removing about 200 adult EFs. I may use them to start a new bin, but there is no way of knowing that there are no PEs in with them, what with babies, cocoons, and the possible faulty ID of an occasional worm.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 3:12PM
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I have at least 4 different species of "red worms" living in my worm box. Plus Black Soldier Fly Larvae and a ton of Mites. These composting critters do a great job. I only bought red wigglers (eisenia fetida).
Apparently, each worm has a specific "job" in nature. When we put them into totes and boxes or barrels, we (vermifolks) attempt to control those natural processes or "jobs". Each tote or barrel will balance- that is- reach a harmony of occupants. This may require a decrease in one species of resident and an increase in another. Worms are designed by nature to survive so they are prolific breeders. Eisenia fetida are perhaps the most prolific of them all and the first choice of many vermifolks.
This is an old post, but it seemed appropriate.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:09PM
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According to Kelly Slocum in an old article at Worm Digest, the reason PEs take over bins is that they breed faster than EFs. Other than that, EFs are preferred. both are good composters. PEs are a little more finicky about cold temps.

Maybe I should just leave well enough alone. Everything is going fine, and in spite of the PEs, I still have a good EF population.

Here is a link that might be useful: How Did Perionyx excavatus Appear in My Beds?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:39PM
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For a while I thought I have a mix of EF and Africans, and the EFs were being ousted little by little.
But now I think they are PE. I bought my stock from different dealers as EF and noticed these skinnier, longer, darker worms (dark brown almost black) with clitellum closer to the front and they reproduce quite rapidly, IMO anyhow because I wasn't happy with the "contamination".

I am planning to do the same as sbryce has in mind. When starting the next bin, I am going to pick EFs manually and try to raise them "pure" (whatever that is, because they could be a mix of EF and andreii anyway). Oh man!
Which means I have to start a new stack of RM bins.
There is NO way to sort through my FT. That FT will be like "Deep Space 9", all kind of species from all over the place.

On a footnote, I haven't come across them lately. The RM bins were inside over the winter and I put them out about 10 days ago not expecting the near to 0 C nights. I guess many of the PE didn't survive.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 8:52PM
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Oh My! I think you are right. The worms seem stiffer and less likely to just loop over the wonder stick but crawl off faster than I can twist the stick to keep them on. They are pointier and longer and way faster. Not so mellow and happy and friendly. Way less loveable and cute. More like raising wet little snakes.

I have some questions. Did your cost saving measure of less heat do in the EF's or the PE's? If cold kills PE's? Please reread you posts in this thread to determine what I am mixing up in my mind. I think I read something wrong.

I too would like only stripy red wigglers. That would maybe start me back off with only half an egg shells worth again maybe. Maybe that would be ok. I feel real bad for those who have posted recently they accidentally contaminated pure bins of what ever the species.

On the other hand mixed species bins might be ok too. I'm ok with that but I also want one of just alternate striped red wigglers as a status symbol. Well actually nobody knows I have worms. Maybe more to just compare and see if results are the same.

Besides why would'nt I want them.

Red Wigglers Really are the Cadillac of Worms.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 1:41AM
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Sbryce...where did you find the great description of the clittelum placement for identifying the species? I want to make sure I can ID 3 species I'm pretty sure I have: PE, EF and EH's.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:28AM
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Well, you know that spam post that someone at Happy D posted, and I gritched about? I followed the links. They describe PE as a nuisance worm. I didn't find info on EHs.

Something interesting I just found there:

"P. excavatus are very good castings producers and do very well if all you want to do is produce castings, as long as their temperature is controlled and moisture levels are low."

My bins are very wet. In fact, I am intentionally running my flow through wet.

The cold front moves in tonight. I need to decide what I want to do.

Here is a link that might be useful: Perionyx excavatus

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 10:36AM
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I would think the only reasons to care would be 1) if you were to sell bait worms 2) troubleshooting your wormery, 3) experimentation, or 4) status symbol ;). I have a mixed herd and don't care. I raise worms for the poo!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 11:09AM
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As I am trying to decide if I care, a low pressure system is moving in, and my PEs are crawling. The EFs are staying put. I cleaned out the catch basins of my two RM bins, and they were full of drowned PEs. I only found 1 EF in the catch basins.

PEs appear to be great composters, and they reproduce like mad, but they are kind of a pain to take care of.

They may be happier in the summer heat than EFs.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 1:59AM
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I too read that spam page and eyed the pictrure of the PE suspeciously then I tried to ignore it. Except that picture of the long skinny worm haunted me.

Another link you had showed PE's that had gotten cold. They looked string of pearl effect. Similar or the same as tail turning white.

That other lady, with the mixed bin, who gave you great advice because she knows her stuff, also had some worms go string of pearl effect, maybe a year ago. As far as I have ever red there was no conclusive proof as to what caused it. Maybe search there and read hen old posts.

Maybe PE's get chilled and get sick and die.

Maybe ask her if she ever found the reason why.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 9:36AM
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Could there be another reason for the string of pearl effect other than protein poisoning?
I didn't know it.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:58AM
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I'm not even sure the much talked about protein poisoning is a real thing.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 3:02PM
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I have been thinking about this protein poisoning, and I do believe it can happen.
One of the things I remember reading, if the worms ingest food that has not decompose, the food will form gases in the worms' intestine. This will cause bloating, bursting or the string of pearl effect, being such delicate creatures.
This will most likely happen with starchy food. I guess that would be things like rice, pata, potato or even banana that is not rotten.
Mind you, I am no scientist. I am just guessing.
If we eat rice , potato or pasta that is not completely cooked, we will have a stomach ache too. Imagine that happening to such a tiny worm compared to our size.
That is also why I don't blend the worm food so they won't be able to swallow particles that are not "worm ready". I do chop, cut or slice them (the food) down to save space in storing and to make it decompose faster.

A good thing not to chop or cut the food (i.e. apples and the like) if you are planning to go away. It will push the availability date to the worm further. We know they will not go hungry since they will keep reprocessing the VC and eventually eat the bedding, but ,,,,,

My apology to the original poster. This should have gone under a separate thread.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 7:17PM
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