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Are Red Wigglers Helpful

author
James Smith
• Monday, 28 December, 2020
• 8 min read

This guide will introduce you to the red wiggler to include a deeper on dive on the species and information on breeding, life cycle, and reproduction. The red wiggler (binomial name: arena fetid) is the world's most common composting worm.

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(Source: www.gardeners.com)

Contents

Native to Europe, arena fetid are not classified as invasive species in North America as they are not considered to have a negative environmental impact in the wild. This species features a vibrant color with yellow banding and is closely related to the more uniformly-pigmented arena Andrei.

A study suggests that the two can produce hybrid offspring, a phenomenon which should otherwise be considered impossible between most worm species. Fun fact: The “fetid” part of the binomial name refers to what some say is a foul-smelling secretion the red wiggler uses to fend off predators.

The anatomy of a red wiggler resembles that of other common earthworms; a long-segmented body begins at the pointed head and terminates at a slightly-flatted tail. A fleshy band called a flagellum features prominently on the body of the red wiggler at roughly 1/3rd of the length of the worm.

The digestive tract is simple, starting at the mouth where the worm begins to consume its food before passing it on to the pharynx. Calciferous glands in the stomach also serve to neutralize acidic foods passing through the worm's digestive tract.

The intestine forms the longest part of the worm and is where the majority of digestion takes place via enzymatic processes. The castings eventually pass through the anus at the end of the worm as capsules coated with a biologically-rich mucus.

worm composting european worms wiggler redwormcomposting know let smule
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Red wigglers, like all earthworms, are hermaphroditic, simultaneously possessing both male and female sex organs, both of which are used in the reproduction process. Two worms of the same species will intertwine around each other's criteria, secreting sperm through their skin, eventually producing a cocoon.

Red wigglers are a resilient composting worm, tolerant of a wider range of temperature than other species. For instance, its larger cousin, the European Nightcrawler prefers cooler temperatures in the high-60 °F range.

The red wiggler can tolerate both the low and high ends of these ranges, reproducing and processing organic waste well between 55 °F-90 °F. Its cocoons are famously hardy as well, able to withstand prolonged freezing temperatures, staying viable in a suspended state until they are able to hatch in warmer weather.

But red wigglers are nobody's idea of cheap, and the skyrocketing demand for all things garden-related due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 boosted prices of all composting worms. For most commercial worm bins, 1lb is sufficient, but 2 lbs will get you off to a faster start with your waste processing.

You never know what problems or delays you may encounter with your worm bin, so it's helpful to get it set up first to ensure you get off to a good start. This reduces weight, but more importantly, the risk of microbial activity raising the temperatures to deadly levels while the worms are in transit.

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(Source: toughnickel.com)

Monday's shipments from my Georgia-based preferred supplier often reach California customers on Wednesday. So make sure that your postman is directed to leave your shipment in a shaded, protected environment if you won't be home to receive your worms.

But if you're ordering from PetS mart, PERCO, Walmart, or another large company that is not directly related to the vermicomposting world, be careful! To save on shipping cost, you may want to see if there are any nearby “Mom and Pop” stores through a Google search.

With the appropriate temperature, moisture, pH, and food sources as discussed below, you should achieve higher densities, perhaps 2-3 lbs per square foot or so. This prevents a mucky, muddy vermicompost that will be simply difficult to harvest at best, and a stinky, anaerobic mess at worst.

If needed, ground eggshells and agricultural lime can be used to offset the generally more acidic fruit and vegetable waste. The European Nightcrawler, the larger cousin of the red wiggler, is just as voracious and also makes for a good bait worm.

The African Nightcrawler is a very large composting worm and makes a beautiful, granular cast. The Indian Blue is voracious, but also prefers a warmer climate, and it also exhibits a tendency to escape the bin.

worm bin compost plans diy composting layers worms rubbermaid plan farm bins food vermicomposter helpful theselfsufficientliving section cross building feeding
(Source: www.pinterest.com.au)

I like to call it the Ford Taurus of vermicomposting worms; you won't brag to your hardcore composting buddies that you own them, but they will serve you well. During the larva stage, the wigglers shed their skin four times.

Dig a shallow hole by what we call a worm's burrow. You should find the burrow of a Red Wiggler, which are specialty worms.

Red wigglers, popular composting worms, can be found in leaf litter, tools and in the subsurface. They are highly adaptable, though, and can be found in rainforests, grasslands, bushland, all within a range of climates.

First you have to eat the apple, and then you could compost it reedit to red wigglers (they are a type of worm that eats the vegetation and the vegetation can turn it to composted soil). In general, earthworms such as red wigglers can eat half their body weight every day.

Unlike your everyday night crawlers, they live well in close, highly populated conditions and don't burrow. In nature, you would almost never find a red wiggler worm heading deep underground.

compost worms soil grond boden mischung wormen worm night garden
(Source: www.dreamstime.com)

If you decide to start a compost bin, you can get these red wigglers from any of a number of places. Like night crawlers, they make a tasty meal for fish, and bait shops often carry them.

You'll find when you begin vermicomposting that your worm population will double every 90 days or so. Red wiggler worms can eat about half of their weight in food every day.

The best way to decide how many worms you'll need for your bin is to weigh the amount of organic waste you throw away each day for about a week. When you know about how much you toss on average, buy twice as many pounds of worms as the amount of waste.

In other words, they have both male and female sex organs, yet it still takes two worms to reproduce. Sexually mature worms have dark red bands around their necks.

These hardy composters are easy to care for, reproduce quickly, tolerate a wide range of temperatures, and of course can eat huge amounts of organic waste. Advantages of Red worms Red worms have many properties which make them ideal for the compost bin.

worm farm bin build diy plans composting farming vermicomposter modern vermicomposting plan holes helpful drill garden lid farmer bit theselfsufficientliving
(Source: theselfsufficientliving.com)

Red wigglers can withstand a wide range of environmental conditions and changes that would kill most other breeds. Unlike common earthworms that borrow deep into the soil red worms thrive in the first several inches of topsoil directly beneath decomposing vegetative organic matter.

Decaying leaves, grasses, wood, and animal manure are all favorites of red worms. It is estimated that red worms eat nearly 3 times their weight each week.

Red worms like to live in colonies, often congregating into a writhing mass around a food source. Maintaining this close contact makes them prolific breeders and an ideal breed to raise in your worm farm.

Another advantage of red worms is their ability with stand a wide range of temperature extremes. When the temperature dips red worms need to be protected from freezing weather.

Even red worms kept outside can easily survive the frigid temperatures of northern North America. That can be as simple as keeping them in trench filled with aged manure and covered with straw or leaves.

Similarly,; when temperatures spike keep your worm farm cool. If your bedding gets over 85 degrees red worms will try to escape your bins for cooler areas.

Baby red worms hatch from small lemon shaped cocoons. So even your youngest red worms will be breeding within about 2 ½ months and producing their own cocoons.

Each cocoon holds an average of five small red worms; typically three will ultimately hatch, emerge, and begin reproducing. The bedding material you select, food sources, moisture conditions, and temperature all have an effect on how quickly or slowly your red worms will reproduce.

Provide them food, moisture, and suitable bedding material, and they will happily stay in their bins or outdoor colonies. In order to breathe they require a moist, but not saturated bedding material.

A moist environment also facilitates the breakdown of organic matter in their bedding material by microbial life forms. A worm farm full of red wigglers is an excellent way to compost food scraps, left overs, garden waste, and leaves.

They hold on to each other with bristle like hairs, called STAE, located on their underside. During the mating session, which lasts for about 3 hours, the worms secrete mucus rings around themselves.

When temperature and moisture conditions improve the hatchlings emerge and the reproduction cycle kicks into high gear. Some worm farmers actually withhold food and water to simulate drought conditions and bump up cocoon production.

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Sources
1 xiagordon.com - https://xiagordon.com/
2 xiagordon.com - https://xiagordon.com/about
3 www.commarts.com - https://www.commarts.com/fresh/xia-gordon
4 bit.vt.edu - https://bit.vt.edu/faculty/directory/xia.html
5 aziz.seas.harvard.edu - https://aziz.seas.harvard.edu/publications
6 law.justia.com - https://law.justia.com/cases/washington/supreme-court/2017/92436-8.html