Can You Mix Red Wigglers And Nightcrawlers

Maria Garcia
• Sunday, 22 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Red wigglers and nightcrawlers are two species of worms toucan use on your farm to maintain and/or increase the fertility of plants’ soil. This is because nightcrawlers solely depend on the soil for all the nutrients they need to survive.

worm wigglers nightcrawlers bomb european gardeners
(Source: www.gardeners.com)


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”.

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.

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.

worm wigglers nightcrawlers european gardeners bomb
(Source: www.gardeners.com)

As toucan see, from the benefits mentioned above, worms can be an extremely rich addition to 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 adapt.

When couriered 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.

avocado eat wigglers worms avocados worm wiggler bin
(Source: thesquirmfirm.com)

Nightcrawlers is deep diggers, while, on the other hand, redwigglerscan 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. 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, toucan 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). 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.

worms wigglers worm identification wiggler etc common fetida
(Source: www.wormsetc.com)

You likely wouldn’t see the nightcrawlers though since they would be hanging out down in the lower regions where the soil meets the organic matter. 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.

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).

worm composting worms farm
(Source: unclejimswormfarm.com)

As the season swings into gear, I am commonly asked “Should I mix earthworm species in my worm composting bin?” You Want To Mix Species to Vermicompost at Different Depths In general, European nightcrawlers are believed to burrow a little deeper than red wigglers and Indian blues and African nightcrawlers are believed to burrow a little deeper than Euros, so the thinking is that a more uniform processing of waste is more likely with more species.

But I have also seen red wigglers way deeper in a wet, compacted worm bin than I thought I should find. European nightcrawlers generally enjoy slightly cooler temperatures than red wigglers would find ideal.

So it might make sense to include a variety of species so if you have weather patterns like Philadelphia which goes from well digger's ass cold to Satan's armpit-level hot and muggy in an instant. Worms are excellent self-regulators and will slow their reproduction when the population density reaches a certain level, ultimately maxing out at 2-3 lbs per square foot (maybe a bit more), depending on the conditions in the bin.

It's More Expensive to Buy Multiple Species Purchasing two breeds normally means two packages from your supplier. Although similar in form and function to a red wiggler, the Indian Blue mixes its voracious composting ability with an annoying tendency to attempt a mass escape from the bin for seemingly no reason.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with multiple species in a worm bin, but I can 't find a compelling reason to say you should. Of the arguments for intentionally introducing mixed breeds in your bin, the depth issue is the most convincing.

worm bin ground composting worms easy plastic bottom cut bucket plant they through texas makes paper planter vermiculture
(Source: texasredworms.com)

So while I fully support anyone who is experimenting with different breeds, there's nothing screaming at me that says it's a better way to vermicompost and the purported upside to me just doesn't outweigh the added cost. Take the money you would have spent on two separate pounds of worms and just buy 3 lbs of a single species like the red wiggler for the same price.

I am going to start up a couple of bins and was wondering, has anyone you know of combined nightcrawlers and reds in the same box and was there any problem? I did have 1 bed with nightcrawlers back then and every so often, I would find a few NC’s in the other box surrounded by the smaller worms.

Never found any dead ones, so I don’t know if it was “look there’s big brother or if they were trying to kill it as a territorial invader. Ideally, I would like to combine them to have some for fishing and yet keep up the voracious disposal speed of the Reds.

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