Are Red Wigglers And Nightcrawlers The Same

Brent Mccoy
• Thursday, 26 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Red worms and nightcrawlers are different species of earthworms that can be important in the production of compost. Red worms or Eugenia fetid represent a species of earthworms mainly used in vermicomposting.

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(Source: texasredworms.com)


One of the main features of these worms is their adaption to live in decaying organic material including rotting vegetation, compost, and manure. Usually, red worms continuously bring their food on to the surface.

This reduces the requirement of turning the organic material continuously. Nightcrawlers is a group of earthworms that feed above the ground at night.

Furthermore, nightcrawlers are an important type of worms for compost production as they bring nutrients from the deep soil on to the surface. Red worms and nightcrawlers are two types of earthworms belonging to the class Oligochaeta.

They are tube-shaped, segmented worms with a closed circulatory system and a color which serves as a hydrostatic skeleton. Moreover, they live in the top few inches of the soil, feeding on dead organic matter.

A red worm is an earthworm used in composting food scraps and other organic material and as fishing baits while a nightcrawler is a large earthworm found on the soil surface at night and used for fish bait. Thus, this explains the main difference between red worms and nightcrawlers.

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(Source: www.caudata.org)

Speed of reproduction is another difference between red worms and nightcrawlers. On the other hand, nightcrawlers include several species of earthworms that are much larger and less reddish when compared to red worms.

Therefore, the main difference between red worms and nightcrawlers is their appearance and importance in compost production. Hubbard, E. “Ask the Worm Guys: The Three Types of Composting Worms.” Nature’s Little Recyclers, 30 Aug. 2017, Available Here.

Red wigglers and nightcrawlers are two species of worms you can use on your farm to maintain and/or increase the fertility of plants’ soil. They also fancy their solitary underground homes, which is one of the reasons they love to travel down deep into the soil.

As they dig their way through, they eat dirt and, in the process, leave behind what is called “worm castings”. Which can significantly fertilize your farm soil and keep your plants thriving all through the year.

Nightcrawlers makes deep burrows that can aerate the soil and allow your plants’ root to properly absorb the oxygen they need to stay healthy and keep growing. These worm castings are made up of important nutrients (like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and nitrogen) that can improve the structure of your plants’ soil.

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(Source: donaldsweblog.blogspot.com)

As mentioned earlier, earthworms love solitary, which is why these fascinating creatures can burrow as deep as six inches into the soil to enjoy this solitude. The deep tunnels they create in the process serve as efficient channels through which oxygen is allowed to flow through to the plants’ root structure.

The burrows they make also creates a better environment in which the microorganisms can assist in the growth of your plants. For example, red wigglers prefer to feed on decaying soil matter (like fallen leaves and animal wastes) and manures instead of in-ground composts, as opposed to earthworms.

In this process, they also release castings (as do earthworms, too), which can highly contribute to the nutrients level of your plants soil. However, red worms can also aerate your plants’ soil to allow the easy absorption of water, oxygen, and other necessary nutrients you decide to use in your garden.

As a fully organic indoor gardener, you must understand the importance of naturally maintained fertile soil structure all year round, without having to use toxic chemicals. This is why you might want to use vermicomposting to better sustain and also increase the soil nutrients your plants depend on for optimal growth.

Vermicomposting, in simple words, refers to the use of worms, and other microorganisms, to convert dead or decaying organic matter into fertile nutrients for your soil. Not just any type of worms, but those that particularly feed on decomposing organic matter as food for their survival.

Interestingly, worms can also help in breaking down the nutritional elements contained in the soil to make it easier for your plants to absorb them for their survival. As mentioned earlier, red wigglers and earthworms differ slightly in their environmental preferences.

The conditions under which a red worm may thrive can be a bit different from that under which nightcrawlers can adapt. When you mix red worms and common earthworms together, you might want to expect a more efficient vermicomposting system on your farm with each species contributing differently to the growth of your plants.

Red wigglers, on the other hand, will be more efficient in converting fallen leaves into soil nutrients your plants largely thrive on for optimal growth. Nightcrawlers is deep diggers, while, on the other hand, red wigglers can be found within only a few inches to the soil surface.

This means, one species will be more comfortable than the other depending on the living condition you’re able to create for them in your garden. Since red worms are smaller, they can easily be kept in higher density than their counterparts, earthworms.

Buying both nightcrawlers and red wigglers can be more expensive than just purchasing one of the worm species. You may have to integrate some conditions in your garden to keep your nightcrawlers alive and also ensure the sustainable growth of your plants all at the same time.

Worms, generally, need calcium for survival and the continuous supply of this element will ensure they thrive properly on your farm. Earthworm feeds on soil and largely on dead and decaying organic matter.

Toxic chemicals like fungicides and ammonium sulfate can seriously injure and reduce the number of worms. So, to prevent this, you can reduce, or stop, the use of fertilizers and fungicides that can harm the worms as well as your plants.

The Canadian Nightcrawler is a soil dwelling worm that is very popular for fishing due to its large size and the relative ease with which it can be collected (especially at night, during or after a heavy summer rain shower). In the ‘wild’, L. terrestrial makes deep burrows down into the soil and lives a rather solitary life.

They come up to the surface (typically at night) to feed and to mate, but most of their time is spent burrowing through the soil. This species of worm is adapted for a crowded life in very rich organic matter, such as that found in a manure pile (pretty well their ideal habitat).

Aside from the fact that it can be a pain to try and separate the two species once mixed, I’ve read that Red Worms will eventually out compete the Euros. They are the perfect worms for live fish bait; and are a good food source for different kinds of reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

You can find them burrowing and thriving in most compost heaps or piles of animal manure. The Canadian nightcrawler on the other hand is also large, and is a very well-liked live fish bait.

As for the African type, these are worms that can sustain cool conditions. They’ve been used extensively for fishing since they can be submerged underwater for long periods of time (unlike their red wiggler worm cousins).

But the good thing about them is that they can stand low food levels compared to red wigglers. It’ll help your garden or lawn soil become well aerated and fertilized too.

Not only that, it burrows deep under the ground to allow water and nutrients to reach the root systems of your garden or lawn. It’s also a good source of food for other animals; and a great live bait for fish.

I was reading some research papers the other day about the concerns of the introduction of exotic (foreign) earthworm species into American land. I’m not going to go into the environmental and ecological risks in detail, but a section mentions that “There is evidence that native earthworm populations can coexist with exotic earthworms and in some instances may have an advantage if the site is not highly disturbed” (James, 1991; Dotson and Kali, 1989; Callahan and Blair, 1999; Callahan ET.

This is for the benefit of the European Nightcrawler because they are larger, worth more by the pound, and they also breed slower. The two type of worms have quite different characteristics in terms of birth cycles, environment adaptability and sexual maturation.

On the other hand, European Nightcrawlers do not grow as rapidly, but is more robust and can adapt to a wider moisture range. So with more red wigglers around it will lower the chances of European Night crawlers finding their mate to breed.

Worms do the clever thing in being able to control their population, which means another limitation for the chances of European night crawlers to proliferate. So to conclude, separating the two species is the best way to go if you’re breeding (doesn’t matter as much if you’re only thinking of composting).

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