Worms crawling up sides

cindys6436November 1, 2009


I've had my worm composting bin for about a month. It is an 8 or 10 gallon plastic bin (can't remember which size) that I made following directions in the book "Urban Homestead." I drilled big holes on the bottom. It has tiny air holes punched all the way around (used a 1/32 drill bit) at the bottom and at the top, and also all over the lid.

When I got my worms (1-1/4 lb.), I set up the bin with damp shredded newspaper and leaves, then I dumped the bag of worms along with the medium they came in (looked like soil, but not sure what it was exactly) into the bin. A few days later I checked and didn't see many worms. I thought they might have gotten too cold, so I brought the bin inside. A few days later a lot of them were crawling up the sides of the bin. My husband said they were probably too hot. I then moved them to the garage. The person I got the worms from said to reach in and stir up the bin some, because if it gets packed in, it will become anaerobic. So now I do that every few days or so. I see worms everywhere now. But a lot of times there are several crawling up the side of the bin. Can anyone tell me why they might be doing this? They look healthy enough, and I might find somewhere between 5-10 of them crawling up the sides. My bin is probably only about half full - could they be doing this because they need more bedding to give them more space?

Thanks in advance for any help.


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5 to 10 worms crawling up the sides is not anything to worry about. Worms like moisture and there is often a lot of condensation on the sides and lid of the bin. They just like to hang out in the wet spots.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 9:37PM
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Hi Cindy,
do you have condensation built up on the sides of your bin?
What is the ambient temp. where the bin is? Do you get leachate? Does the bedding feel warm to the touch? Is there any "bad" smell?
If they are crawling up the sides, I suspect you do have condensation on the sides of your bin. Depending how much, your bin might be too wet or it might not be.

I do not stir my worm bin. I dig into the bedding and vermicompost with a set of chop sticks and sort of lift it gently here and there. Depending what you have in there (food?) stirring might cause the bin to heat up.
And if it is cold out in your garage, that might be the cause of condensation.
You could add dry schredded newspaper on top, especially on the sides to catch any moisture dripping down.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 10:00PM
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Thsnks - I'll have to see if there is condensation - I haven't really noticed. If there is, it's pretty minimal but I'll check. The bedding does not seem too wet to me - it's not dry, but not dripping by any means. I don't know what the ambient temp is and I don't know what leachate is. It does get colder at night here and warmer during the day. I live in the Sacramento area, so no really extreme cold and the days have been ranging from 65 to near 80.

I don't particularly care for the smell of the worm bin, but it's not "bad." Nothing rotten smelling - just a strong dirt smell.

I'm not too concerned about this as the worms seem to do be doing well, as far as I can tell.

I guess I'll worry more if they start some sort of mass exodus : )


    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 1:56PM
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leachate is the liquid coming out from the bottom of the bin.
Some people call it worm tea but it is NOT worm tea.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 11:41AM
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If things go anaerobic, worms will try to leave. Especially if there isn't adequate air flow for the gases to escape. Certain foods can cause that problem, too. As was mentioned, 5-10 is no big deal. Open the bin, let light in, they go back down.

Worms will crawl away if there isn't enough food available. Even if there is a lot of food, if it's in one spot and you have too many worms, some will crawl away. When you have lots of worms, it sometimes doesn't hurt to sprinkle ground up oats or corn on the surface. If the bin is fairly moist, don't wet the oats/corn. If it isn't, give a couple sprays of water from a water bottle. Plastic bins that get wet vege matter regularly don't usually need any added moisture. It's generally the opposite.

Food that has started heating up can drive worms away.

Worms aren't real bright. They tend to crawl all over as long as there is moisture and no light.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 2:03PM
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