Worms all gone and bug infestation

iryderJune 14, 2011

I checked my worm bin this morning and as I was getting ready to place the weekly food scraps in the bin I noticed that all my worms were gone and a bug infestation had occurred. Does anyone know what kind of bug this is in the pictures below? They are black with dark brownish striped sections. I know most bugs in the bin are beneficial but there were hundreds literally swarmed throughout the entire bin. Any help would greatly be appreciated as my worms were thriving up until this point and I have no idea what I did wrong. Thanks again

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plumiebear(z9? CA)

That looks like a BSFL (Black soldier fly larva). They are fantastic composters, but in large numbers they generate quite a bit of heat. That will drive the worms either down (if your bin is deep enough) or out of a bin.

We'll need more details about your bin setup to offer suggestions on what to do. I personally have been trying to set up a separate BSFL bin, but my climate is apparently too moderate to get a large colony established. I blogged about it here: http://vermicomposters.ning.com/profiles/blogs/bsfl-experiment-the-grubs-have

Andrew

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:28PM
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equinoxequinox

I am surprised this is the first time you have seen them. They were white before they turned dark. They migrate up a slight ramp or even the damp edge of a bin. They can migrate quite far. They processed the food scraps for you. They do this so quickly that they produce heat and moisture. You may want to add more dry beding. The worms may be down at the bottom. Or their eggs may hatch out soon. If the bin is inside the house you might want to bring it outside and start again inside with the worms you retrieve. People are experimenting with raising worms and BSFL together. Need more articles on this topic. People who raise only BSFL get attached to their herd as much as we get attached to our vermi. Many people really want BSFL but have not yet been sucessful as you have.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:53PM
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iryder

Thanks for all the help! I appreciate it as I am a beginner but determined to succeed. I dug through the entire pile and found zero worms however I did find some dead worms on the ground outside of the bin so maybe it was too hot in there.

Plumiebear just to let you know I have a small Worm-a-way bin. Usually on Sundays I dump about 2-2.5lbs of food scraps and cardboard paper rolls. I freeze all of it during the week then wrap it in newspaper and bury it under the very top layer each week. Not sure if that enlightens you or not but I appreciate all the help you have offered. Thanks

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 8:30AM
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plumiebear(z9? CA)

iRyder, if your bin is relatively new, 2 lb. of scraps each week is too much unless you have 2-3 lb. of worms packed in the bin. It takes a month or two for the bin ecosystem to get established.

It's hard to see how large the vent holes are in your bin. Black soldier flies (BSF) are fairly large flys, so a female probably got in when you opened the bin to feed and stayed inside to lay her eggs. It's also possible that your initial batch of worms came with some eggs in the bedding.

You don't say where you're located, but BSF prefer warmer regions. They will be difficult to remove from a bin during the summer. It will probably be easiest to transfer the entire contents of your Worm-a-way into an 18 gal. tote and maintain that as your BSFL bin. I'll bet there are baby worms and cocoons in there, so put some damp cardboard in one corner with just a small amount of food. The BSFL won't be attracted to cardboard, but any worms will move into that area.

You will need to thoroughly scrub the inside of your Worm-a-way to remove any BSF eggs (they are tiny) stuck on the walls. Then re-start your worm bin with entirely new bedding. You could try removing any worms left in the BSFL material, but be careful to gently rinse them so that no baby grubs or eggs come along for the ride.

Andrew

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 4:26PM
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