In the ‘wild’, L. terrestrial makes deep burrows down into the soil and lives a rather solitary life. 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).
The ‘ European Nightcrawler’ is in fact a similar worm to the Red Wiggler (they are closely related) and they can technically be kept in the same system. For a fun school project you might try setting up a large bin and putting in 1 lb of each species then observing what happens.
The euro is a great worm for composting and is quite a bit larger compared to the red wiggler. One of the major differences being that the euro has a tendency to burrow much deeper into the beds and can be found at any depth.
If uneaten food becomes buried deep in a bed of only red wiggler they may not consume it, and it could become soured, with European red worms in the bed this is not a problem as the feed will get consumed eventually. One experienced farmer has told me several times that you will never get more than one worm per egg capsule from the euro.
The Euro seems to love a diet high in fiber and low in protein compared to the red wiggler. The European worm has quite a thick skin and is able to penetrate much harder ground.
The thick skin on the Euro also enables it to withstand dry conditions while maintaining a healthy size and appearance. The Euro’s larger size makes it a better worm for classrooms and other demos.
The large egg capsules are easier to spot and then show to groups. The Euros' appearance seems to invoke less gross responses from the squeamish people, and they are also less slimy and tend to be more active and photo sensitive.
The real big disadvantages to the Euro are its slower reproduction, shorter life span, lack of upwards migration, and sensitivity to environmental conditions. The euro is in high demand for fishing and this keeps the price much higher than that of the red wiggler.
“ Canredwigglers and European Crawlers coexist in the same basic bin?” ~ Jim E 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, EuropeanNightcrawlers 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). Vermicomposting is a form of composting that involves the natural process of decomposition using various species.
Organic Matter is broken down by Red Wiggler worms, Canadian nightcrawlers, and EuropeanNightcrawlers. You can identify wigglers by their physical attributes, such as color and size, as well as their behavior.
The Red Wiggler is one of the few earthworms that produces the exact chemical makeup that the soil needs. The Worm Castings contain abundant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Since people often confuse traditional nightcrawler earthworms with red wigglers, we needed a better way to identify these compost worms at all stages, which is why we created this interactive guide. Red wigglers will have several stripes or rings down the entire length of the worm’s body.
During the reproductive phase, the two of them will bind together and secrete albumin, which will form into a cocoon. Both worms exchange sperm, which is then placed into the albumin sac, with the eggs and amniotic fluid.
The red wiggler cocoon is tiny, about the size of a grape seed. The cocoons start as clear, then turn white, yellow, and finally reddish-brown when ready to hatch.
As long as all the conditions are correctly met, the earthworm should start to peek its head out. Temperature between 65-85 Degrees Farhenhieght 80-90% moisture content Proper air circulation pH Neutral, or 7.0 (they can survive between 4.2-8.0 or higher alkalinity).
After the eggs are fertilized inside the cocoon, they start turning into Zygotes. The Cocoon is surprisingly adaptive to most weather conditions; in fact, the pupae can even remain frozen for years with all the life intact when it reaches ideal temperatures.
The recommended temperature is between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit with a moisture level of 80-90 percent. You need to have adequate space and food for them to reproduce, and there are no dominant traits to take into consideration.
The larvae are not as ideal for composting as the fully developed Red Wiggler (Eugenia Fetid). Looking similar to their cousin, they are often confused with other earthworms such as the European Nightcrawler, or Eugenia Forensic.
The Common Garden Worm (Eugenia Forensic), or European nightcrawler, can easily be confused with the red wiggler. The Red Wiggler looks closer to the Eugenia Andrei, which looks identical except for having a slightly darker reddish tint, and less pronounced stripes on the worm.
A unique characteristic of the Red Wiggler is that it will secrete a foul-smelling liquid to rid itself of possible predators. The Red Wiggler will consume up to half of its weight in nitrogen (food waste) and paper or leaves (carbon) daily.
Start with smaller amounts of food and increase servings until you find the right balance. It would be best if you never fed your worms things like Citrus Fruit, Meats, bones, spices, grease, dairy, or non-biodegradable materials.
Although it can be tempting to throw all of your food waste into the composting bin, it will undoubtedly lead to a disaster. Their muscles are the only thing that helps them grind food into a smooth pulp to digest.
If you have trouble remembering all of this an infographic refrigerator magnet may help (link to Amazon). Okaying ModerationNeverCornXCardboardXPearsXRiceXOrangesXSteakXEggsXFoods with additivesXCabbageXCeleryXBeansXBurgersXFrench FriesXRaw Potatoes Wigglers need oxygen to survive; they produce carbon dioxide like most other land animals.
The oxygen passes through their skin, and carbon dioxide returns to the environment. It does not take much, but that slimy mucous membrane over the body of the worm is what is helping filter the oxygen into its bloodstream.
If you see your worms surfacing a lot, then something in the soil may be causing this drastic change. For the most part, you don’t have to worry if your worm population outgrows your farm.
The population in your worm farm will self-regulate based on the size of the bin and available food supply. If you are noticing that you have many small worms, read this troubleshooting guide.
Thomas Jefferson Vermicomposting is a simple and rewarding way to make use of kitchen scraps while providing your plants with an ongoing supply of truly nutrient-rich amendments. That perfect batch of tomatoes or fruit that you are striving for starts with the nutrients that go into the soil.