Watering Bins and Drowning Worms

evoluke(Adelaide SA)August 20, 2008

I've had my can o worms bin for about a year now and have posted a few new threads on here to answer a few of my newbie questions and i thank everyone for their input and advice. When i first started my bin i was told (via the instructions with the bin) that i should pour half a litre of water through it every week. i did this for a while especially during the summer months as we had two weeks of days above 36 degrees celcius, a record here in australia i believe. anyway i have recently learnt from this forum that you shouldn't need to tip water through it unless it is excessively dry (which mine has only been once when it was left in the sun). now i am quite curious as to how much water it takes to drown a worm and am wondering if my watering habits have been the cause of my worm population not really increasing (visually) over the past year. whenevr i have tipped water in the bin i have left the tap open so it drains right out, i'm now wondering whether worms need to be submerged in water to drown or whether the process of tipping water over them could drown them. Anyway i have stopped the watering and hope now my worm population starts to increase.

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saworm(Western Cape)

Hi evoluke.....I wouldn't recommend doing the showering thing for the worms....as long as you have holes in the bottom of your bin the worms won't drown but every time you shower them you may be losing cocoons. Might be the reason for the lack of population growth. I just use a spray bottle to keep things moist if I see them dry out a little. Plastic bins contain more moisture for a longer period of time than wooden bins. As long as your bin is not dripping wet or cork dry you are fine. Your worms will be trying to esape if it is either of the above. Tipping water over won't drown them as far as I know.
hope this helps...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 6:54AM
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folly_grows(10 SF by the Bay)

Evoluke - Wet conditions seem to lead to most of the problems we experience, so stop the watering. Keep the COW in the shade and check regularly. Spray the top bedding when the material beneath it starts to get dry. However, the food that you add should provide sufficient moisture.

When I had an invasion of ants, I did have to water-through my Worm Factory. I did each tray separately to wash out the ants and then let each drain before reassembling. I then put fresh, dry shredded newspaper in the top bedding and bottom collection tray.

Also, leaving the spigot open allows leachate and water to drain as they accumulate. (To make clean-up easy, place a container filled with shredded paper below the spigot.) It also provides a bit more ventilation when things are balanced.

Here's an excellent photo tutorial on the COW by Redhen:

When I grow up I'm trading up to COW!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:25AM
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evoluke(Adelaide SA)

thanks for the advice folly and the link was great, looks like i probably should add a bit more shredded paper. i'm definitely thinking the water i've been adding has attributed to the slowness of my system. will be interesting to see now how things go. i've recently created a second bin for composting dog and horse poop plus excess waste so lets hope i'll have mountains of lovely worms in the coming months.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 1:40AM
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Thanks everyone for your informative posts. I need to revive the question because of my situation. My small plastic bin has been successful until I added something that exploded it with tiny gnats. The lid is enclosed in nylon mesh so they were trapped in there for a week, multiplying before I check the bin and inadvertently released the swarm into my house!

Now I have salvaged as many adult worms as I can and am starting a new bed. but since these gnats are so tiny and I don't know what their eggs look like. I wanted to try to give my worms a shower to wash away any casting that may still have gnat eggs before putting them into the new bedding.

The worms are in a separate bowl. The old casting I've kept incase some new worms hatch, so I'm not worried about losing coccoons.

Can I give them a quick swish and rinse with warm rainwater and immediately drain them? Will a couple of 3 second rinses drown them?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:12PM
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Hi there,
I had a huge mite infestation, and successfully harvested my bins and washed the worms of any mite eggs.

Put a handful of worms in a large margarine/yogurt container etc, and fill with room temp water. The worms will sink to the bottom and any silt, eggs, etc will float to the top and you can carefully drain the bucket leaving the worms on the bottom. I rinsed mine 3 times or so, and they are fine.

You could possibly have fungus gnats. They love the dark damp worm bin. They're similar to fruit flies. You can possibly catch them by putting a small jar with cider vinegar and a drop of dishwashing liquid in. They'll go to the vinegar and the dishwashing liquid will make them unable to fly.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:59PM
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Thanks So much for your Instant Reply!!! I'm at my wits end. I will try your washing suggestion. I think youa re right about them being fungus gnats. They are tiny. they look like little flying X's. Like a page full of printed x's just rose off the paper and started flying about. I do brew Kombucha and have the vinegar traps but they don't seem to gravitate to them. My home is abuzz and I'm sure the new bedding with the nylon netting, the screen and the non woven cloth over the air holes (which kept the gnats in so well) should keep them out as well.

I plan to freeze all my veggies from now on before adding them to prevent another infestation.

Thanks again!!!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 1:35PM
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roselover_5b(z5b KCMO)

In my experience, the vinegar/apple juice traps work only with fruit flies. The one time I had a fungus gnat infestation I ended up buying an order of hypoaspis miles after trying vacuuming them up. The vacuum couldn't do anything about the eggs, just the flying adults. The link below is where I ordered mine. They worked wondefully. Be warned, though: they are not inexpensive and the amount in the order is waaaay more than you'll need. The good thing is that so long as you have the fungus gnat larva in your system, the mites will continue to prey on them. They controlled my problem very, very quickly. Once you get rid of them, make sure the VC is inaccessible to any adults who want to lay eggs by placing a thick layer of dry shreds over it.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: A souce for Hypoaspis miles

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 2:38PM
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Vacuuming your bins of the flies will help a lot, if you've got a lot. Be sure and cover your bin with inches deep of shredded paper. Fruit flies and fungas gnats don't like to dig for their food.

Freezing food will kill any fruit fly eggs. I've done this all along, and have never had fruit fly or fungas gnats.
A couple small flies were around once, and they did go into the little jar of cider vinegar, so perhaps they were fruit flies. However, once you rid your bins of the little flies, deter them in the future with lots of bedding on top of your food.

Do you think your bins are too wet? Fungas gnats like the wet humid atmosphere of the bins and it could be attracting them, if they are too wet.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:14AM
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I think fungus gnats is what I have been battling in one of my bins. I've tried the vinegar/juice bait trap at least twice and it didnt work. Covering with shredded paper seems to be only effective as a preventative measure as I had no luck with it against an established population.

Turning my bin a few times over a couple of days seemed to be the most effective so far (eggs get buried & no exposed food?), and maybe removing excess water during that helped

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:32AM
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I'd add more dry shreds into the bin, to get it drier.
Fungas gnats like moisture, so if you can dry your bin more, that should help alleviate the problem. Same as when they are attracted to houseplants in the winter. Some people water the plants the same way year-round, when often they don't need as much in the winter. This has the soil wetter than normal and the fungas gnats appear.

Something else you can do, is get some bright yellow cardboard. Cut it into squares, tape or glue it to a stick of some sort. Spread vaseline on the yellow paper. Fungas gnats are attracted to the colour yellow. You can buy sticky sticks at some greenhouses, sometimes in WalMart. These are for attracting gnats. The home-made method is cheaper, and in the event you can't find them, you can make it yourself.

I'd put one of these sticky things inside the bin, and outside if you can.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 9:27AM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

Old fashioned fly paper works well, too, and will only set you back a dollar or so.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 3:12AM
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The worms can live in water a long time as long as there is disolved oxygen in the water, so washng them will not jurt them.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 11:52AM
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