Worm help--mass exodus

triciagrace07April 15, 2014

I've had my worm bin up and running for months. All has gone well till I harvested my first tray. Now for some reason my worms are migrating down into my drip pan and I've lost probably 100+. Not sure why. Should I just start my bin over and throw away the two processing trays? I'd hate lose the worm eggs and poop but I'm not sure why they are jumping ship....any thoughts?

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Update: moved my bin out of garage and the worms stopped leaving...it must of gotten too hot :-(

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:16AM
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I have had my bin for about 3 months. I started with 500 and then two weeks ago I added 1000. the first batch adj well. but this batch seems to be trying to escape. There are a # of them on the sides and under the edge of the lid. I have also found some in the catch basin. I thought maybe it might be too wet so I have been adding np and cardboard. but it is still happening. Also my bin is not at all neat. I tend to just put food anywhere. should I try to restart and be neater or just keep putting them back in. I do keep a small light on them at night which does help a little. but I just cked it a few minutes ago in broad day light and there they are up on the sides again. any help would be appreciated

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 4:29PM
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There are several common reasons that worms will attempt mass exodus. I should mention that African night crawlers are more prone to mass exodus than red wigglers.

In no particular orderâ¦

They really donâÂÂt like to be disturbed too much! Mostly just leave them alone

Moisture/liquid content too high in bin

Improper ventilation in bin!!!!! The bin must have top and bottom ventilation, and more of it than you may realize. I had to modify my worm factory 360 unit and install additional ventilation in the lid.

Lack of a wet newspaper converting the top of soil/food

Worms will revolt if you add too much liquefied food at one time. (I make a thick shake like mixture of kitchen scraps in my blender) IâÂÂve only ever had mass exodus 2 to12 hours after feeding (over feeding) my worms. It seems that they love access to good air and to be covered only by a blanket of wet newspaper.

When I feed I remove the newspaper blanket, covert the existing contents in the bin entirely with dry pre-cut cardboard. Worms love cardboard! They eat the glue (nitrogen) and they like to mate inside the corrugations! I then pour the thick garbage shake directly in the center of the tray on top of the cardboard, and then lay the newspaper blanket on top of this nasty garbage shake.

My observation is that laying dry cardboard over the existing feeding layer keeps just enough of an air pocket in the bin at that level to allow the worms to adapt to the additional food added on top of them. They will eventually find the new food level.

I have observed soil temps as high as 90F and the worms seemed happy; however, about 80 to 85 seems to be where peak processing occurs. (this is for Africans) Reds seem to do OK at this temp too...

Worms will explore! DonâÂÂt misinterpret many explorers for a mass exodus. It is my personal experience that 80% of the time a mass exodus occurs it is lack of adequate ventilation and pouring cool liquefied food directly on top of them without a new dry cardboard layer placed over the existing feeding layer. Worms at 85F donâÂÂt like a sudden change of -10F and wet food dumped on them⦠Always place dry cardboard down first and then pour liquified feed in.

I feed about 4-5 pounds per week, but this varies⦠I tend to feed only when they need it. If you are feeding the liquefied kitchen scraps regimen, you will observe the worms slowly eat it down, and eventually they will start eating the newspaper⦠if there is no more visible garbage shake, and they are eating lots of your covering newspaper they are hungry and need fed.

Happy vermiposting.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:46AM
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I thank you for your most thorough explanation!. I am going to start with the ventilation issue. I don't put liquefied food in usually just food scraps . I also put in lots of cardboard, both corrugated and plain. I don't think the bin is too wet. I will let you know what happens. I have red wigglers. Thanks a lot !!!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 2:15PM
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