When did your mites start showing?

jgoreApril 3, 2009

I first noticed my mites when I started adding corrugated cardboard to my bin, which had been set up primarily of coconut coir and some handfuls of shredded newspaper.

I'm wondering if there's any relation here between the decomposition of the cardboard to fueling a growing mite population. Of course, it's possible I only noticed them at this time, but I have to say they're very easy to see. At the time I added my corrugated cardboard, there was a brief mold explosion on the top of my bin as well, and I know that some mites do feed on mold, so that would make sense. Has anyone else had similar experiences?

Since this happened, I've stopped using cardboard (despite how much everyone says worms love it). Honestly, mine don't seem to mind just having lots of their coir to move around in moved with food scraps. My worm population is beginning to explode with tons of baby worms present through all parts of the bin.

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So, why did you decide to add the cardboard...was your bin getting too wet?

I, too, noticed the mites after adding cardboard, but then realized that the reason I added the cardboard was because the bin was too wet.

So which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I'm still on the fence.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 12:17AM
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Nope, wasn't wet. I added the cardboard because everyone told me how much worms loved it. This was towards the beginning of my bin management when I was continually curious about what was going on everyday and didn't let enough time pass to really observe my true bin trends. So, I was just trying cardboard because I thought that was "what I was supposed to do."

I really have very little paper bedding at all. Almost all the material in the bin is coir & castings, plus pockets of food in in different areas.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 12:29AM
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This is helpful thank you.
I add cardboard because I want to recycle it. I don't want to spend a cent on things I put it my worm bins. All my bedding is newspapers, shirt cardboard and torn up boxes. It seems that I am being too cheap! Coir might indeed be better.
Haven't had mites problems,yet. But I will watch out for them.

My inside bin is new. About a month old. Outside bins are much easier. Mites no mites, doesn't matter much!

I have about three pounds of worms inside. How long do you all think it will take for me to have it doubled?


    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 10:09AM
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I'm not sure about population rates. That probably depends on how much you feed and how happy your worms are with the overall bin conditions. Also, I don't necessarily think all cardboard will cause this problem with mites, but I have read other posts with people expressing similar sentiments. Perhaps, it's a relation between the coir and cardboard together? I'm not certain, but I'm sure there are many people using cardboard successfully. After I added the cardboard to my bin, I had a brief mold explosion, despite a very steady level of damp moisture, which I believe is optimal. I'm leaning towards coir/cardboard not mixing well rather than avoiding cardboard altogether.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 7:50PM
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The first time I had mites was when I put cardboard in the bin. Like jgore, I gave them cardboard because everyone says they like it so much. Also, I think the greater variety of bedding the better the castings.

I also use leaves sometimes as well.

The last bin I set up was newspaper only and leaves. The leaves have been outside on my balcony in a garbage bag all winter so any bugs that might have been harboring on the leaves in the fall, are long since dead.

Anyway, I didn't add any cardboard to this bin at all, and yes, I have mites. Darn! I don't overfeed, the bin isn't wet at all, the castings are always nice and fluffy when I harvest, and the little buggers are relentless. I cannot keep them away.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 8:13PM
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I may be wrong, but I think anything growing in your bin is good with 2 exceptions. Anaerobic bacteria and things that fly and take their nutrients away with them. I'm thinking the mites are just a lot more noticeable on cardboard, at least that was my experience. The bugs, mold, mushrooms etc. speed up the break down of the food. The all 3 of the above problems freaked me out the first time they occurred, but now I just ignore them. (The first mushrooms were a fluorescent looking yellow with a green tinge. Very spectacular. I killed them all. Now I'd like to have them back but I have boring small tan colored ones now.)

Other than flying things (fruit flies and fungus gnats), I haven't ever had any bugs leave the bin.

jasdip just said 'the little buggers are relentless. I cannot keep them away.' Does anyone know if there is a good reason to keep them out?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:05AM
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I don't know of a reason either, Susan, although some people have said that it is possible to have so many mites that the worms try to move away. I've never had that happen, although I do see mites occasionally.
There is one other critter which is bad for a worm bin, however, and that is the centipede. According to Mary Appelhof, they like to eat worms.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 7:51AM
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I know of a lot of people who get no mites in their bins. Ever. The last time I harvested, I had so many mites the worms were down at the bottom and the mites were on the food. More like "mites eat my garbage" post that was mentioned in an earlier thread.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I will get mites no matter what I do. This is the only pest I've had though, so knock on wood for that.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:21AM
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