E.Hortensis vs E. Foetida / Different Needs?

Bowling Green, KY

Hi all,

New to vermicompost and just started two bins about a week ago.

It seems like most here have the Red Wigglers (E. Foetida), so I am not sure if this is the best place to ask..but I figured I'd give it a go.

Just recently got ~1lb of each type of worms. The bins are exactly the same, 18 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck (it is pretty deep for its size) drilled with 1/4" along bottom and sides. Cardboard and newspaper bedding at ~ 6-8" high.

However, for the first five days the Euros ALWAYS escaped at night. In the morning I would find ~25 running around everywhere in the kitchen. Whereas, I had minor issues with the Wigglers...only 5 or so escaped the first day and settled out quickly. They have both settled out now, but I was wondering if it was due to different to environmental needs for each type??? Supposedly, I heard Euros liked a more 'moist' environment that I tried to establish with extra spraying without making it excessively wet; but, they still escaped during that time.

Another thing I noticed was that the Euros are extremely active and fast when compared to the RWs. So far my RWs have been pretty calm and slow whereas the Euros. My wife said that it may be possibly due to their age (she suggested they looked like 'babies' RWs). However, when I initially received them, they were VERY active and 'wiggling'...several also escaped the mesh bagging they were held in.

I am also considering moving one of the worms to a 10 gallon (closer to the standard 1-2-3 Box proportions) bin.

Bronson, FL

How are they escaping? Do you maybe have too much material in the bins? It sounds like it might be too wet for both of them as they will try to escape too moist of conditions. I only have RW and mine are pretty active when I go digging around. I keep the bin moist and its about 90 degrees in there most of the time. RWs don't get very big compared to Euros they stay about 2 inches or so at full growth. You will know if they are adults if you see a lighter ring around them. Don't know if this helped at all, but I tried!

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

I had European wigglers in the same kind of Rubbermaid bin a few years back. I had the holes drilled on the bottom and around the side, down low. I used only torn newspaper 1" strips, no cardboard. My bins were kept outside on a shady side of the house. Both bins did fine all that Spring, Summer, Fall and I put them in the garage for Winter. The Next Spring they were fine although fewer worms. When I started feeding them again, the population rebounded. Sometimes, I noticed a few escaped worms under the bin when they were outside but didn't care because by then they obviously were reproducing - lots of little worms present. I don't think they tried to escape in the Winter at all.

From the many threads I have read, it seems to me that much of the advice suggests that too much moisture or even too much food can cause worms to seek new surroundings. Bins in the kitchen may provide too much temptation to keep adding food of a wet kind, like a blender full. Remember too that lettuce, watermelon or other melon are mostly water.

I think ( with no real facts) that benign neglect may be the best care for worms. Of course, if they dry out completely they must certainly leave or die but smaller amounts of food seemed to reduce my worm population but I never observed any mass exodus. I moved away in 2007 and didn't take the bins. I never inquired how they were doing. Poorly, I'd guess, since the new owner probably had no interest in worms..

My "worm bin" is now just a pile behind my garage to which I add veggie scraps. The redworms (E.foetida) are still there (I saw some today) when I turn the pile to add more veggies after 3 or 4 years. It looks awful in comparison to the splendid worm mansions I see on this web site but, sigh, that's what I am willing to have. BTW, my redworms were bought from a country gas station- they were for sale as fish bait, $2.25 for 25 worms. I bought one cup of 25 worms and have never bought any since.

Well, good luck.


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