Compost Worm Escape!

Red Wigglers

Compost Worm Escape!

Even though I knew better, we had a compost worm escape this weekend. Red wiggler compost worms generally stay in the bedding as long as things are going well. You don’t even need a lid on the bin. But… when compost worms are first put into new bedding — and especially if it’s nice and humid (like after a rain) — they’ll sometimes go on the prowl in a serious way. Here some are making their way out of the bin:

I visited my outdoor bins to find the redworms wandering every which way. I even caught a couple about 2 feet up a tree! They were on their way down by the time I snapped a photo, but still… Worms in trees?

Like I said, compost worms generally only wander off when they’re first placed in new bedding, or if conditions in the bin get bad (overfeeding, etc.) A partial solution to make them stay put while they’re first adjusting is to keep a light over the bins. Like most worms, Eisenia fetida avoid light when they can. I rigged up a makeshift dusk-to-dawn light over the bin, and the problem was mostly solved.

So… serious lesson (re-)learned here. When you first set up a bin, it’s a very good idea to keep a light over it for a few days. Once the compost worms have settled into to their work of vermicomposting, they generally stay put. But if the bedding is new and the night is moist, they might go for a wander…

Incidentally, here is a good place to look for bins