Red worms versus red wigglers? escapes? (newbie)

idratherbegardeningMay 30, 2009

Hi folks, I am new to vermiculture and am giving it a try, mainly because I covet the castings for my garden. Sorry if this question has been asked a hundred times before - I did a search but couldn't find the answer.

I called around to local bait shops to buy worms and could only find "red worms" not "red wigglers". The good ole boys at the bait shop said red wigglers are too small to use for fishing, but that red worms work for fishing AND composting.

I bought a just small amount to start with. What do you think? Will they work??

Also, I was surprised to read in this forum that worms may try to escape a new bin set-up. (Must have missed that part when I was doing the research - my husband will freak!) Hope my red worms like their new home or else the worm bin may be banished forever. Maybe I should put it outside for the next or so, just in case?

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raubuch(Zone 8)

Red Wigglers are a type of red worm, but most of the time they get used interchangeably. There are really a couple different types of red worms used for vermicomposting: Eisenia foetida (red wigglers) and Eisenia hortensis (European Nightcrawler).

They both do very well for vermicomposting. If you're fishing with them, it really depends on what you're fishing for. The Red wigglers are 2 to 3" long and work well for smaller fish. The Europeans are a little larger.

Hope this help. Here is a link with a little more explanation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Worms

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:50PM
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There is a lot of confusion about names of worms, Unless the scientific (latin) name is also used, there is likely to be some confusion. The most common manure worm used in worm farming in the US is the red worm, (Eisenia foetida or fetida), alias redworm, red wiggler, red wriggler, brandling worm and often confused with the similar looking tiger worms (Eisenia Andrei) and even various nightcrawlers.

Unlike the night crawlers or blue worms - Eisenia foetida isn't likely to go "walkabout".

Here is a link that might be useful: What About the Workers? Earthworm Versus the Redworm

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 12:16AM
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As others have mentioned, you need to be specific about using the scientific name of a specific species, otherwise you cannot be sure of what you are getting. There are several species called red worms, including Eisenia foetida, which are also called red wigglers.

Once you determine which species you want, buy them from a worm farmer. You cannot buy enough from a bait dealer to get a good start on your worm bin. Most of us start with a pound of worms, which will cost you a tremendous amount if you by that many packaged in bait cups.

As for escaping, that usually only lasts for a few days. Leave the lid off of the bin and shine a light into it, and the worms will stay put. My bin is 7 months old, and for some unknown reason the worms are trying to escape now. I have tried to make adjustments to make the worms happier. About once a day I open the top and shine a light in, and the worms all crawl back into the bedding.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 1:08AM
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I think worms will always "try to escape". It seems to be their nature to crawl about and look for food, etc My tote worms are always on the sides and the lid. There is condensation there, and the worms like to hang out. I sometimes catch them "in the act" so to speak, and itÂs always a little awkward. Especially for me. Perhaps we should work out a system. Maybe, socks on the door knob, or the tieÂ

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Thank you for the guidance. The bait cup simply said "red worms" on the label, so who knows what kind of worms I really have. But it sounds like I may have gotten the European nightcrawlers. They seem to be about 3 inches long.

This is something akin to a science experiement for me. Don't want to invest a lot of money until I am sure it is going to be workable. I made my bin from two old kitty litter tubs, the kind with a hindged lid. On the bottom one (for catching the drainage) I removed the lid and drilled several holes in the sides (about 3 inches from the bootom). On the other tub, I drilled lots of holes in the lid, along the upper sides and smaller holes in the bottom (for drainage).

From what I have read, surface area seems to be an important thing, and since the kitty litter tub is deeper than it is wide, I am only using less than half of the depth. I put damp newspapers, some soil with a bit of sand, the worms (only about 60 so far), a small amount of food, and more damp shredded newspaper on top. So it is a very small set up.

I was pleased to find this morning that no worms seemed to have been able to escape (none were even trying - probably too deep) but they had eaten much of the overly ripe 1/2 banana and the centers (seeds) out of a few cucumber slices. So they seem to be happy enough so far.

If I can keep these guys alive and producing those wonderful castings for at least a few weeks, then I think I will order some Eisenia foetida and get a bigger tub.

Thanks again for the advice. I do hope this works.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:36PM
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If the worms didn't try to run, it probably had more to do with the overripe banana than the depth of the bin or bedding.

Worms don't always run. When my bin was new, I had no attempted escapes. I fed the new bin with partially composted yard waste. I think the worms found that too good to run from.

Usually when determining how many worms a bin will hold, people look at the surface area of a bin, and not the depth. Surface area is important, but the depth is also a factor. Worms generally like to stay near the top of the bedding, but they will go a foot or more deep if there is food, moisture and oxygen.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:02AM
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There are some good DIY bins that you can make to improve your set up, when you finally understand that you have vermitea in your blood and that it is an incurable condition. See the link below

Here is a link that might be useful: A Worm Farm on a Budget

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 3:13AM
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