Cocoon Bloom.

mendopeteApril 12, 2010

My bin is open bottom and on the ground.As I looked in today, I came upon an area between layers of burlap that was loaded with newborn squirm. I would estimate 300 or more in a 2 square foot area. I was like a proud Papa watching the little white buggers take their first squirm! Do any of you notice a bloom like this where many cocoons hatch simultaneously? I think it is a sign of optimum conidtions, but what are they? I thought my bin was on the dry side so I removed the lid yesterday and allowed 1/4" of rain to enter. Coincidence? I have noticed this 2 other times, several weeks after overfeeding and overheating the bin. Does stressing the system cause a cocoon bloom???

I am going to look for some cigars with a little ring that says "IT'S A BOY/GIRL"

Pete

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randomz

You might find you are looking at pot worms due to the excess dampness. They are a side show only to the main event.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 10:24PM
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11otis

"little white buggers"
White? NOT pink? Oh oh. randomz might be right.
You might be the proud papa of a zillion potworms. Sorry.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:58PM
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sbryce_gw

Baby worms start out white. It takes a few days for them to get their pink color. We usually don't see them when they are white, because they are so small at that point.

BUT.... The only time I have seen a bloom of white worms like mendopete is describing, it was potworms. The white EFs I see are few and far between.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 12:45AM
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mendopete

Although I have very low vision, I am pretty sure these were wigglers. I have previously had a bloom of potwoms, and still have plenty. My description of them being "white" should have been "pale". I did a search this AM and looked at many photos of potworms and baby wigglers. I then went back to the bin with a magnifier. Most were gone... I suspect they went deeper after their first light show! I am still gonna' smoke a cigar.
A month or so ago I harvested 75% of my bin. I trapped and removed many breeders to 2 new plastic totes. I sorted through the rest using light io drive most of the rest down and laterally to the undisturbed 25% of the bed.(approx. 5 square feet). This disruption, and removal of many breeders and cocoons, has really slowed the system. I use multiple layers of coffee-bean bags (made out of chirt and hemp) on top of my bed. The worms often congregate there and breed. I believe they leave their cocoons in the burlap weave. This bloom only occurred over the old undisturbed part of the bed. Last week I had the top off my bin and the burlap dried out on top/ This week it got wet and.....BLOOM! Maybe the reason for being able to witness this is because of the eggs being on top in the burlap.
Anyone else had or seen a bloom like this? Pete

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 12:35PM
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equinoxequinox

I saw a video of a news show online. The worm farmer took a cocoon and squoze it gently so the baby worms crawled out. They already had their color. I also remember seeing on a vermicompost chat site someone had their symbol a photo of a worm hatching. It had color. Can somebody squeeze a cocoon and post what they see? Hopefully PETA will avert their eyes.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 6:19PM
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jim08204

Pete- I am interested in using burlap in my bins to catch cocoons as well. Can you explain your process a bit more???

Thanks,
Jim

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:43AM
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smalltowngal

I recently had a pretty large hatching of cocoons. I saved 150-200 cocoons from my first batch I killed and maybe 50+ adults. I went away for a couple days so I left a bunch of melon in the tub and when I came back, I had a ton of baby worms. Now I know what people mean by scrambling for food because they're hungry little guys. It's been a couple weeks since they hatched so now I have a lot of teenagers. They're going through 1-2 cups of soft food a day. It's neat because when I open the lid, it sounds like rice crispy treats. This weekend I'm going to start aging another bin and in 2 weeks, I'll take 100 adults from my current bin and add them to the new bin.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 3:58PM
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antoniab(5 WofChicago,IL)

smalltowngal,
I love it when the worms are on the move like that, so you can hear them. Just be careful you don't have a hotspot they are moving from. Sometimes I hear them more if I have a bin overheating, sometimes I hear it when the bin is just very full of life.
I tend to think it is time to split the bin when I hear it. :D

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 8:54PM
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mendopete

You gotta love the sounds of crackling worm bedding!
Jim, all I do I layer 4 or more layers of damp burlap on top of all my bins. The more layers I put down, the more the worms come up and hang out in the airy damp resort! They leave castings and cocoons in the layers. I don't harvest this burlap, except to start a new worrmery. I use it because it is free and the worms LOVE it. It also really helps in flying insect control.The worms devour a double layer hemp or chirt sack in about 4 months.
I have overheated my bins on 5-6 occassions and always have a major cocooon bloom in the burlap afterwards.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:00PM
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smalltowngal

I can hear the crackling under the place the food is. I think it's because a lot of the food I've been feeding them has been pretty wet. It's been melons, squash, lettuce, etc. The food isn't buried too deep and I definately don't think it's getting heated at all. It's gone so quickly now.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:23PM
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equinoxequinox

They look similar.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:35PM
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smalltowngal

Wow. I didn't know how much pot worms look like redworms. Mine are definately redworms though. They're red. :)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 11:44PM
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steamyb(7)

http://vermicomposters.ning.com/photo/worm-capsules?context=latest

This is a baby worm with unhatched cocoons.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 3:32PM
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jim08204

Thanks Pete! Going to try and use the burlap to help separate the worms when I harvest in a couple weeks. - Jim

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 5:48PM
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mendopete

I thought I would revive this topic . I have gotten many "cocoon blooms" after stressing outdoor open bins. This phenomena is fascinating to me. I have read accounts of the same thing happening to previously frozen beds after the spring thaw. Worm cocoons seem to be triggered to hatch by stressed bin conditions returning to normal.

I think overheating a bin causes worms to reproduce rapidly, and cocoons to bloom as the bin cools. I believe this is a good strategy in cooler months to increase populations

. Has anyone else noticed this?

Happy wormin'

    Bookmark   November 13, 2014 at 3:10AM
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FrancoiseFromAix

Thank you Pete for reviving this thread.

Now I've got to go and listen to the worms ;-) I'll keep that for myself, and try to do it in complete loneliness, honest I wouldn't like anyone to see me lying on the ground with my ear on the compost heap ;-)

I don't know if it relates to your stress factor as a motivation to reproduce, but I have a heap inhabited by a mouse and surprisingly it's the heap that is the most invaded by worms of all sizes. Could fright of being eaten be the reason why, well correlation is not causation but apparently the mouse is frightening the worms so much that they can't stop multiplying.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 1:36PM
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11otis

""the heap that is the most invaded by worms of all sizes."" How dense was the population there? It might be possible that increased "activity" is caused by decreased pop. density. However, this is not to mean that when you put a few worms in a container/bin they will start orgies and the like to cause cocoon bloom.
My estimation of a dense population is when I scoop a handful and I get say 75% worms in it, it's dense. I imagine the worms have some kind of radar to "know"/feel each others' extremity to measure density.
With an open bin like Pete's, there's like no end to their world, the centre might be dense but all around the edges is open space less dense and I can understand how a system like this has a very high census rate. Way to go Pete!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 2:06PM
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