Euros Won't Stay Down Without Light

crazyforwormsNovember 20, 2013

All was going smoothly with my 10-gal and 5-gal bins until a big thunderstorm hit the area and the worms in both my indoor bins headed for the hills. I only lost a handful, but it was still unsettling to me. Since the worms were already stirred up, I decided to go on and divide my 10-gal bin into 2 5-gal bins and harvest some of the castings. I am not strong and I could tell that the 10-gal was going to be difficult for me to handle by harvesting time. I put a lot of the compost from the original bin into the new bins and added plenty of fresh bedding. I try hard not to overfeed, and my old bin was not overly wet. I use newspaper (black ink) and cardboard as bedding and feed vegetable matter in coffee-cup plastic tops in the center of the bin, refilling when I see most of the food gone. It looked like the worms were doing well at composting and I hoped that the new digs would take. I do add a bit of ground eggshells now and then; and ,after the swarm, added a bit of garden lime (calcium carbonate) just in case of acidity. I've been keeping a light on at night since the incident and they have stayed in place for several days. Last night I turned off the light and they were at it again.

I put the 5-gal plastic bins inside 18-gal clear plastic bins and snap the lids on the pastic bins each night, opening them in the morning. I have a black sheet of plastic covering the otherwise open 5-gal bins. A few worms manage to escape the larger bins even though the lids seem to snap tight.

I can leave a light on each night, but wish that I knew I wasn't forcing them back into an unhealthy situation. I can't imagine what else I can do to keep them down. Any ideas?

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I'm trying to picture the setup. With lids snapped on tight and plastic over them, are you blocking the air flow? Do the lids have holes drilled in them? How about the buckets and bins? If not, try that. If that doesn't work, I'd say it might be a case of too much love. Ignore them for a few days, maybe.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 9:50AM
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It might be that the first evacuation and storm conditions were partially a timing situation.

My first thought would be that the bin environment is in some way not to their liking. If they're still acting a little too squirmy, making one end of the bin neutral with new bedding might give them an escape haven.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 12:30PM
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Thanks for the suggestions folks. I do have ventilation holes for the smaller bins and the plastic is placed loosely on top of the bedding with space at the sides. I lock the lids of the larger bins holding the 5-gal bins at night to try and prevent too many escapees if the gang decides to swarm . I believe there is enough oxygen insid ethe larger bins to hold the worms through the night. I take the tops off in the morning.

I agree that oxygen is the key, as well as fresh bedding and I think I am providing that. It may be the fact that we have had storms and rain for the last week and that is the trigger. My concern is that the Sterilite snapping lids do not seal well enough to stop the swarm completely when it occurs. I really want to use tub-type bins for several reasons and I thought the snapping lids would work. The lids seem to slow them down from escaping entirely but quite a few can still get out.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 5:57PM
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I gotta tell you, and I'm not trying to downplay your situation or makeup of your beddings, but the last thing I ever worry about is the maximum security of my bins. A lot of the time the lid isn't even on them....without lights.

If you have worms in perpetual escape mode, there is something wrong in the bins. They should not have any compulsion to flee.

If it were me, I would simplify everything about the contents of the bin. One bland foodstuff that they really always go pumpkin or cantaloupe. One type of bedding, shredded newspaper. All with moisture contents consistent with 'DAMP'.

Of course, if your bedding was aged horse manure, you wouldn't be receiving this reply to the thread because the thread wouldn't exist. Just sayin......


We wormers, as a whole, seem to love to experiment when things get boring. Not necessarily in this case, but often, we wanna try stuff.....when everything is going just perfectly....differently.

I think that trait is what makes us do this in the first place.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 7:56PM
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"making one end of the bin neutral with new bedding might give them an escape haven." This sounds like a good plan even for those with out Euros.

"I believe there is enough oxygen inside the larger bins to hold the worms through the night." I was in a seminar room at the Energy Efficient Builders Association yearly event in South Carolina about 1992. The presenter had a monitor on the wall that measured not oxygen but the build up of carbon dioxide. By half an hour into the talk the monitor showed the carbon dioxide to be above that which is healthy levels. The worms may have enough oxygen but the build up of carbon dioxide by the worms and other processes in the bin may be what is driving them.

If the lid must be on then how about using a fish tank air pump to pop some air into the bin and cycle out the carbon dioxide as a few week experiment?

When people talk about keeping the lights on for more than a week I wonder if it is worth the expense. Then I think about low voltage lights that will probably do the job just as well. And then I think about back up. If the power goes out at night then what? LED's might be our friends here. Very Slippery Cellar Stairs?

I do not have Euros. I know nothing about them.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 10:41PM
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