- 5 Ways to Get Rid of Millipedes
- little green worms in my house
- Urban Jungle
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- Have You Seen Any Inchworms Lately?
- What are inchworms?
- How to control inchworms
- ‘Tell people not to panic’: Experts say Canada’s caterpillar and worm infestation will end
- ‘Year of the caterpillar’
- ‘They will go away’
- The Worms Go In, the Worms Go Out…
- Are there any benefits of having worms in potted plants?
- Some of the detrimental things about having worms in pots.
- Moisture levels that earthworms prefer
- Get the benefits of worms without the problems and they will eat up a third of your waste
- What do composting worms like to eat?
- What to avoid feeding worms.
- Can I use worm compost on my potted plant?
- Enriching your soil with natural worm fertilizer and the benefits it brings.
5 Ways to Get Rid of Millipedes
Did you know that a millipede isn’t an insect at all?! They are arthropods that feed on dead and decaying plant matter. Millipedes overwinter in homes which means they enter when the temperatures drop and come out when the temperatures rise. This is why you see millipedes around your home in warmer months…they’ve been there; they’ve just been “resting”. Well, they’re not always “resting”, sometimes they are mating which can be a pain because they can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. This is usually when you discover a millipede infestation. In the right situation, a millipede can live 5-7 years.
The best way to keep millipedes out of your house is to stop them from getting in.
- Seal any cracks and/or crevices in the foundation, around wiring, and plumbing where millipedes, or other pests, could enter.
- Millipedes require high humidity. Use dehumidifiers to keep the air dry or use fans in rooms that done have good air flow.
- Repair any leaks. Leaky faucets or pipes can attract millipedes.
- Clean out and remove debris from gutters. Gutter build up can cause water from draining correctly.
- Keep your yard clean by removing dead plant matter. Remove piled up mulch or woodpiles that store moisture and attract millipedes.
If you have a millipede infestation, contact your local pest control company for a free pest inspection.
They get their common inchworm name because the tiny caterpillars are about You can get rid of an inchworm infestation by targeting all the life stages of this pest. Writing since , her work has appeared on various websites, covering . To get rid of brown inch worms in the house use moth balls. Brown inch worms are really the larvae of a type of moth. Placing moth I want to paint them so my question is do I need a special paint to use in them? And my. Check the topside and underside of leaves for inchworms. Remove any inchworms you find, and place them inside a bucket filled with soapy water. Inchworms.
little green worms in my house
Inchworms are also known as loopers, spanworms and canker worms, and are a member of the Her areas of expertise include home, garden and health. A few days ago we had a huge storm that lasted all day and night, ever since valtonen.me worms have invaded my house!! I am sweeping them. You might wish to locate the source of the worms. Try to identify what kind of worms they are. Are they moth related perhaps? I would clear out.
We received a message from a reader who wants to know how to get rid of inchworms and silkworms, or inch worms and silk worms, as she. The inchworm is a common type of worm that can show up just about Before we discuss how to get rid of inchworms, the non-toxic way, continue reading Beetle Larva · Cluster of Worms On Side of House are Moth Larvae Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Inchworms are a pretty low-maintenance pet that are great for young children. You simply When I’m at school I put him on my window sill so he can get sunlight, and I always check if he needs new leaves before I leave. If you leave the container inside your house, the inchworms could get loose. Kill Tomato Worms.
Inchworms are not actually worms, but moth larvae–better known as caterpillars. Inchworms are indeed pests in the garden because they eat. how do you suggest getting rid of the green inch worms all over my house. To get rid of brown inch worms in the house use moth you get rid of palm tree worms? I need to get rid of worms that are eating my pygmy date palms. share. Learn how to identify, control and prevent inchworms. Sevin® Insect Killer Granules kill and control inchworms at soil level in lawns and gardens. Apply the . Organize Pantry: Get rid of packaged food products that are past the I share my house with other people and keeping anything any sort of clean is impossible. Cabbage worms have to be dealt with as soon as they are spotted in a garden. Here are some home remedies you can try to get rid of the. Try these easy DIY pest solutions to rid plants of pesky caterpillars and take back control of your garden greens. Growing up, my family had a small garden every year. soil to kill ants, slugs and snails, fleas, cockroaches, and many other pests. . I need to know how to just get rid of them and keep them out of my plants and my house. You Actually See Caterpillars, Inchworms or Cabbage Loopers This is one of the most effective ways to kill caterpillars, and won’t hurt most beneficial insects. The best way is by looking at the back end of an inchworm: If it has only . I have wasps around my yard / house and they seem to like eating them quite a bit. with anything just go to my website to see how to get rid of them.
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April 24. 2012
Inchworm on a thread
Suspended by a barely visible silk filament, a small green caterpillar dangles underneath a box elder tree.
It’s a geometer moth larva, otherwise known as an inchworm, named after its distinctive looping and lunging gait. The caterpillar appears to measure its path in units of its own body length.
But a climb back up a silk line happens at a much slower, steadier pace, as the inchworm uses only its front three pairs of legs to hoist itself back up to the leaf from where it leapt.
Inchworms don’t bungee jump for kicks; they reserve that option for escaping predatory insects. Inchworms have lousy eyesight but are quite adept at detecting vibrations, especially those made by the wasps and predatory stink bugs that hunt them.
Testing inchworm sensitivity, entomologists Ignacio Castellanos and Pedro Barbosa used a machine to imitate various oscillations caused by wind, rain, birds, herbivores, wasps and stink bugs. Bird vibrations caused the caterpillars to remain motionless and try to blend in with the plant. But predatory insect vibrations inspired inchworms to anchor a silk line and bail, using long lines to avoid wasps, shorter lines to escape stink bugs.
Some parasitic wasps, however, are aware of the maneuver. They can locate the silk line and either reel up a desperate caterpillar or slide down to inject eggs inside it; the wasp larvae then slowly consume their host.
Sources: Pedro Barbosa, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland; Animal Behavior; Annals of the Entomological Society of America; Invertebrate Survival Journal; Ecological Entomology
The common name “inchworm” applies to a large group of caterpillars that includes many different species of moth larvae. These small caterpillars charm children as they inch across the ground, but their damage to plants — from garden edibles to shade trees — can be devastating. In different regions throughout the United States, the common name inchworm may apply to native and non-native leaf-feeding caterpillars also known as spanworms, cankerworms, loopers, moth worms and measuring worms.
Inchworm Identification: Common caterpillars have a series of true legs and fleshy “prolegs” that support movement from head to tail. In contrast, inchworms have true legs at the front and prolegs at the rear with a legless expanse in between. To travel forward, inchworms take it one end at a time, as though they’re measuring their route. First, the rear moves forward, causing the legless midsection to arch or “loop” up. Then the inchworm lifts and extends its front end, and the rear begins to move again.
Inchworm size depends on maturity and species, but they typically reach 1 inch long or more. Common colors include shades of green and brown, but vivid spots, stripes and patterns exist as well. Mature inchworm moths vary significantly, too. Colors range from dingy white, gray-brown or mint green to vibrant color combinations.
Signs/Damage of Inchworms: Inchworms are voracious leaf eaters that feed on plant foliage both day and night. Often found in large groups, they’ll also feed alone. New leaves, leaf buds, flower buds, fruits and berries may all be targets. Damage ranges from large holes to nearly total defoliation. Weakened plants are then vulnerable to other pests and diseases. Affected edible plants may fail to produce harvests.
How to Control Inchworms: Depending on the species, inchworms may be found from ground level to tree tops. For large trees more than 10 feet high, consider hiring a professional for treatment. For smaller trees, vegetable and fruit gardens, lawns and ornamental gardens around your home, GardenTech® brand offers several highly effective products to kill inchworms by contact and keep protecting for up to three months:
- Sevin® Insect Killer Granules kill and control inchworms at soil level in lawns and gardens. Apply the ready-to-use granules with a regular lawn spreader. Then water immediately to release the active ingredients into soil where inchworms lie.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate provides an economical means of treating small trees and shrubs as well as lawns and gardens. Use the convenient measuring cup with a pump-style sprayer. Add water, mix well, and spray all surfaces, including tree trunks, thoroughly.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray attaches to a common garden hose and mixes and measures as you spray. This product provides simple, thorough coverage for lawns, gardens, shrubs and small trees to kill existing inchworms and protect against new invasions.
Tip: Many moth species with inchworm larvae overwinter in leaf debris near the plants where they’ll feed. Keep gardens, foundation plantings and tree bases free of leaf debris to eliminate these hiding places.
Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals and edible crops.
GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.
Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.
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Have You Seen Any Inchworms Lately?
Posted by Virginia Green in Lawn Insects & Pests
Have you seen any inchworms lately? My guess is you have. It’s certainly the time of year again. These little creatures seem to be everywhere, and on everything. Don’t worry though, these little buggers won’t be active for very long.
What are inchworms?
These inchworms are called Cankerworm. They are a type of measuring worm, called so because of their peculiar movement. They can be green or brown or brown with a black stripe. Overwintering as eggs in the tops of tall shade trees, the larvae hatch in early spring and begin feeding. They feed on oak, ash, maple, apple and cherry just to name a few. The larvae drop from leaf to leaf on silk strands of their own making that are often detached by the wind and can be blown for considerable distances. If they don’t land on you, your porch or your car, they land on desirable trees, feeding on the leaves and defoliating everything but the midrib.
Large enough populations will defoliate a tree. However, because this feeding happens early in the spring, most healthy trees will push out new buds and leaves and grow on to a full recovery. It’s because of this diagnosis of recovery chemical controls are rarely needed to control the cankerworm population. Four to five weeks after hatching, the cankerworms will drop to the soil to pupate. The wingless adult females will emerge in the fall and begin their long climb into the canopy of large shade trees to lay their eggs.
How to control inchworms
Since the wingless females must crawl into the trees to lay their eggs, attempts at control are often made during this time by banding surrounding trees with sticky material. Another control method is to introduce a bacterial pathogen called Bacillus thurigiensis (Bt.) to the early instar cankerworms, about 10 days after hatch. This spore forming bacteria causes a fatal disease in cankerworm, but timing is critical with this method as it is not effective on the latter instar cankerworms.
The surest control is to spray your high value, susceptible trees with a residual contact insecticide. The application should coincide with the larvae emergence and the tree’s leaves should be expanded considerably. This chemical application will not eradicate the cankerworm, but will offer some protection to the tree from defoliation. An arborist can advise of the need to treat the trees or not, before applying pesticides. Contact Virginia Green for a no cost quote for our Premium Tree Shrub program.
inchworm, name for the larvae of moths of the family Geometridae, a large, cosmopolitan group with over 1,200 species indigenous to North America. Also called measuring worms, spanworms, and loopers, inchworms lack appendages in the middle portion of their body, causing them to have a characteristic looping gait. They have three pairs of true legs at the front end, like other caterpillars , but only two or three pairs of prolegs (larval abdominal appendages), located at the rear end. An inchworm moves by drawing its hind end forward while holding on with the front legs, then advancing its front section while holding on with the prolegs. Inchworms have smooth, hairless bodies, usually about 1 in. (2.5 cm) long. They are green, brown, or black and in many species have irregular projections that cause them to resemble the twigs of the trees they feed on. Many inchworms, when disturbed, stand erect and motionless on the prolegs, increasing the resemblance. Certain destructive inchworms are called cankerworms . Adult geometrid moths range in wingspread from 3/8 in. to 2 in. (9.5–51 mm). Most are gray or brown with fine patterns and are well camouflaged on trees. The cabbage looper is not an inchworm, but a caterpillar of a different family. Inchworms are classified in the phylum Arthropoda , class Insecta, order Lepidoptera, family Geometridae.
‘Tell people not to panic’: Experts say Canada’s caterpillar and worm infestation will end
Maybe you’re in Toronto, sitting on a patio, finally enjoying some warm weather, only to have them rain down on your table. Or maybe you find the ground covered with them in Saskatoon as you walk out to your garage.
Caterpillars. They seem to be everywhere.
From the Prairies to the east coast, Canadians are battling creepy crawlers that seem to be out in abundance this spring.
In Ontario, there’s an infestation of cankerworms (also known as inchworms). Saskatchewan is battling tent caterpillars. Manitoba has both of these as well as elm spanworms, prompting some to call it the “year of the caterpillar,” while there’s a “plague” of crane fly larvae in Newfoundland.
Just how bad do some people have it? Here’s what it looked like for Tammi Hanowski at her home south of Saskatoon.
“No matter what you do — you’ll sweep them, you’ll vacuum them — and in 10 seconds it’s like they’re just there again,” she told CBC ‘s Creeden Martell.
- Montrealers ‘don’t need to fear’ tent caterpillar invasion
- St. Lazare plagued by so many caterpillars they’re burying them in pails
- ‘Like it was biblical’: Kippens lawn infested with crane fly larvae
While it may seem like a sign of biblical end times to some, it’s all part of a natural cycle — though not one entomologists completely understand.
“This is typical of these cycles that are anywhere between eight and 12 years,” Judith Myers, of the University of British Columbia’s zoology department, told CBC News.
“It’s very, very difficult to find what the actual factor is that causes some outbreaks to be longer than others, some declines to go lower than others.”
Tent caterpillars seem to be taking over trees across several provinces. This one is a forest tent caterpillar. (Erik White/CBC)
That’s because there are various factors that can influence caterpillars’ boom-or-bust life cycle. Things like weather conditions (they prefer dry and warm), the presence of parasitoids (which lay eggs inside the egg sacs of caterpillars in the larval stage), diseases and fungi all influence their numbers.
‘Year of the caterpillar’
In the case of tent caterpillars, for example, the moths produce eggs sacs where the larvae develop before going into a dormant phase called diapause. In spring, the larvae hatch and emerge as the worms we’re now seeing feast on our trees.
And if the conditions are right — such as a warm, dry spring that many parts of the country experienced last year — they thrive.
“It’s definitely the year of the caterpillar,” Winnipeg insect-control branch superintendent Ken Nawolsky told CBC’s Bartley Kives.
‘They will go away’
All these caterpillars may be an eyesore, but they’re nothing to worry about, Myers said.
“Tell people not to panic about the caterpillars,” Myers said. “They will go away.”
Greg Pohl, an insect and disease identification officer with Natural Resources Canada, said the influx of cankerworms is also not a big deal.
Leaves eaten by cankerworms. (Havard Gould/CBC)
“There are always outbreaks someplace in Canada,” Pohl told CBC News. “And it’s not always in cities, though certainly there’ve been a lot of outbreaks in urban areas this year.”
He said “huge population outbreaks” happen occasionally. “It’s just a matter of all the planets lining up in terms of the right weather conditions in the winter and early spring, and the population levels of the things that eat these things, like birds and other insects.”
There are more than 500 different species of cankerworms, Pohl said, and they fall under two distinct types — fall or spring, depending on when they lay their eggs. The ones out now are fall cankerworms. You might notice them as bright green worms that sometimes dangle from leaves, or they might be brown.
Cankerworms, also known as inchworms, are invading some parts of the country. (/Conny Skogberg)
The worms and caterpillars consume the leaves of trees, but the leaves will grow back. So while your tree may look pretty sad in June, by August it should be back to its full, green self, Myers said. Unless, that is, it’s been stressed for some time or it’s faced a few years of outbreaks.
“One year isn’t generally enough to cause all the trees to die,” Pohl said. “It’ll look terrible in the city, and people don’t like to see that, but trees are pretty tough.”
- Caterpillars invade Great Slave Lake area
And while some cities may be thinking about spraying, it might be too late. Pohl said that spraying has be done early in the life cycle — during the larval stage or when worms are young — to be effective. In the meantime, he says there’s not much you can do. There is special sticky tape that can be affixed to trees that will trap them. But aside from that?
“The best thing can do is be patient and just accept that the trees are going to look a little ragged this year,” Pohl said.
Q: “Should I squish the caterpillars that are eating my mock orange shrub, or will they become butterflies that I want in my garden,” asked the HelpLine caller.
A: After getting a description and searching lots of references, I told the caller she had sawfly larvae! And, no, she probably didn’t want to raise a new generation of sawflies.
What is a caterpillar? What is a worm?
Typically, we think of caterpillars as larvae of butterflies, moths, and skippers (Lepidoptera), and worms as segmented legless critters that live in the ground (Annelida), but it’s complicated! Both terms are applied to many creatures that aren’t members of these particular parts of the animal kingdom. We call various other insect larvae—including sawflies (Hymenoptera)—caterpillars. We also include “worm” in the common names of lots of garden insects that are not worms, but actually in the order Lepidoptera, too: armyworms, bagworms, cabbageworms, cutworms, hornworms, inchworms, and webworms. Wireworms are click-beetle larvae (from the order Coleoptera).
Good or bad?
All of these critters are going to eat things in your garden, and many are considered garden pests. Identifying them is critical to knowing what they will eat and if you want to let them be—or not! Even the larvae of the butterflies that we encourage as pollinators eat their host plants. We want earthworms in our compost, but some worms are destructive! So, good or bad?
It’s mostly about the “legs.” Butterfly and moth larvae have 3 pairs of legs and 2 to 5 pairs of prolegs (leg-like parts). You know they aren’t wood-boring larvae if the prolegs are armed with hooks (crochets). Sawfly larvae have at least 6 pairs of prolegs, and no crochets.
You may need to provide host plants to feed the butterflies and moths you want. You might not typically grow what desirable caterpillars eat—or you might not grow enough to share!
- Monarch butterfly larvae (Danaus plexippus) eat milkweeds (Asclepias). Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is one attractive milkweed that will fit easily into most landscapes.
- Swallowtail butterfly larvae eat a variety of plants, depending on the species.
- Black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes) feed on many garden crops, such as parsley and dill, while others feed on tree, shrub, or vine leaves.
- Zebra swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus) feed on pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba).
- Eastern tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) can eat the leaves of many trees, including tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera) and willows (Salix).
- Spicebush swallowtails (Papilio troilus) need spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and/or sassafras (Sassafras albidum).
- Pipevine swallowtails (Battus philenor) feed on pipevines (Aristolochia). Monarch caterpillar Monarch on butterfly weed Black swallowtail caterpillar Black swallowtail Spicebush swallowtail larva Spicebush swallowtail
Not all moth and butterfly larvae are our friends. Many are major vegetable garden pests:
- White cabbage moths (Mamestra brassicae) produce cabbageworms that eat all members of the Brassica family: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and many greens, such as bok choy, collards, kale, mustard, and the tops of turnips and rutabagas.
- Hawk/hummingbird/sphinx moths (Manduca) produce tomato and other hornworms, that eat tomatoes, tobacco, and their relatives.
- Sesid moths (Melittia cucurbitae) produce squash borers that can destroy your summer and winter squash crops, as well as pumpkins and some gourds.
- Most of the soil-dwelling worms gardeners see are light-colored European earthworms belonging to the genus Aporrectodea. Earthworms are great at decomposing plant wastes. Their own wastes and their tunneling add nutrients and help aerate and drain soils.
- Burrowing worms. “Nightcrawlers” (Lumbricus terrestris) are also European imports that burrow deeply, but clear areas near their burrow entrances at night, often creating noticeable mounds of food material.
- Litter-dwelling worms. These include the “red-wigglers” (Eisenia foetida) used by vermicomposters. Red wigglers are not “cold hardy” in our climate, but the litter-dwelling Asian jumping worms (Amynthas agrestis) can survive outdoors and are seriously damaging forest habitats—including Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
- Worm-like garden dwellers. Not all critters living in the soil are worms. Grubs (immature Japanese, June, and other beetles) and root maggots (fly larvae) are “bad” soil-dwelling pests that you may encounter in your garden. Grubs are usually white/gray, fat, C-shaped larvae, often found under turf. Various root maggots (Delia) attack the roots of Brassica crops, corn, and onions. Similarly, carrot rust fly larvae (Psila rosea) devour carrot roots, and sometimes celery, celeriac, coriander, dill, fennel, and parsley roots, too!
A final note—if you choose to use pesticides to manage garden damage—be careful about using Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) for controlling caterpillars! It will indiscriminately kill all your caterpillars, not just the undesirable ones.
Article written by Debbie Green, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer.
Field Guide to the Southern Piedmont
by Jonathan J. Storm, Briget C. Doyle, Rachel V. Furman, Julie M. Smoak, & Melissa A. Storm
Field guide from South Carolina that includes many insects and plants we have in Western North Carolina. Good photographs and descriptions.
Jumping Worm Field Guide
from the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
Compares the European nightcrawler with the jumping worm.
Garden Insects of North America (2nd Edition)
by Cranshaw, W. and D. Shetlar (2018). Princeton, NJ: Princeton Press.
The Worms Go In, the Worms Go Out…
Q. Mike: Should I add earthworms to my raised beds?
- —Chris in Summit, NJ
Mike: I want to create an area in my garden to produce a regular supply of worms;for two reasons.
- 1): To help keep my soil aerated and pliable and fight the dreaded “ClayAchin'” of Delaware County, PA. &
- 2): To have a supply I can dig up and use to go fishing whenever I want. I have an empty 4′ by 4′ raised bed all ready for my worm condo. I just need advice on how to furnish it. Thanks,
- —Pete in Glenolden, PA
A. Well, first I have to thank both of you! To use Pete’s ‘two fold reasoning’: One, because I checked our archives and was totally—like totally!—embarrassed to see that I haven’t done a detailed piece on worms yet. And Two, because your questions led me to rediscover “The Worm Book” by biologist, entomologist, & zoologist Janet Hogan Taylor and ‘eco – journalist’ Loren Nancarrow. This lively little tome, first published by the great Ten Speed Press back in 1998 and (thankfully!) still in print is full of wormy fun and helpful facts.
The answer to Chris’ question about adding earthworms is both simple and complex. Earthworms (like the abundant night crawler) are wonderful in garden situations. Give them some leaf litter to live underneath and they will constantly digest your garden soil, aerating it to relieve soil compaction and adding lots of trace minerals and other plant nutrients in the form of their famous ‘castings’, a euphuism that certainly sounds much classier than the ‘worm poop’ it is. Appreciation of these worms is one of the big reasons I use shredded leaves as the mulch of choice in my raised beds; I know that almost every time I move some of the mulch to one side, I’ll see earthworms scurrying away to hide.
But allowing such worms outside a wriggly-good garden gets tricky. There is a strong consensus in the scientific community that many of the nation’s earthworms are not native to the Americas, but came to our shores from Europe and Asia in the soil accompanying transported plants; and The Worm Book notes, in huge numbers when the ships of early settlers used soil for ballast and let it loose in The New World. These practices apparently re-introduced earthworms to areas where they had thrived in prehistoric times, but had been wiped out during The Little Ice Age. A lot of controversial plants in our landscapes have very similar histories. Do such origins make these organisms alien invaders? Or resettled natives?
No matter which way your brain tries to unpuzzle that puzzler, these earthworms seem to be changing the face of the American forest floor with their nutrient recycling. Although a richer soil would seem to always be a good thing, it favors the growth of some plants over others; and the fear is that the worms are putting added pressure on some native species.
So, as my good friend Frankenstein’s Monster would simplify this complex question: “Worms in garden, good! Worms in forest, bad! Bad!”
I note this seemingly academic point because of Pete’s desire to drown worms in pursuit of an aquatic meal or twelve. Fishermen—eh, fisher-persons—have gotten much of the blame for introducing these ‘foreign’ worms to forested areas, specifically by dumping their extra bait after a hard day of napping next to an anchored fishing line. So make it like trash in a national park: If you take it in, you haul it out. Or as our distinguished ex-president might say, “Leave no worm behind.” (Which, of course begs the follow-up question: “Is our worms learning?”)
In any event, the earthworm of choice for home gardens would be the night crawler (Lumbricus terrestris), a species that has become abundant (or is that re-abundant?) in North America. Unlike the redworms used for indoor worm bins, these worms like to go down deep—up to six feet under. The Worm Book notes that they prefer undisturbed soil for their permanent burrows, so if lots of worms you want, do no tilling. The less you do to disturb your soil, the more worms you’ll have.
As their name implies, night crawlers come to the surface in the evening, so that’s the best time to harvest a few for the next morning’s fishing trip. The book adds that they’re most active in the Spring and Fall; in winter and summer, they stay way down low during times of temperature extremes. A chilly (to me anyway) 50 degrees F. (10 C.) is their preferred number. I would think that a thin layer of vegetable waste from the kitchen on top of your soil covered with well-shredded leaves would provide the food they like to find near the surface and the cool soil temps they prefer.
If your garden area seems to currently be worm free, you might try some local wrangling to collect starter worms. A small-scale business in some areas, worm wranglers strap miner’s lights to their forehead and go out collecting on rainy nights. And, you know, if these worms ARE causing problems in forests, it might be a mitzvah to collect them from the woods and take them to gardens.
Just remember: Night crawlers need to go down way deep and are not appropriate for indoor worm composting bins. And the redworms sold for use in indoor bins are not fit for gardens. You need the right worm for the right job. For lots more information on this topic, get a copy of The Worm Book. And read it until the pages are ‘worm-eared’.
I have been growing plants in containers for over forty years and some of the things I have observed about worms in pots made me think about different worms and the pot size can have an influence.
Is it okay to put earthworms in potted plants? Earthworms and composting worms are very beneficial to growing plants in soil in your garden and while one or two earthworms may do little or no damage to potted plant by actually eating the roots of plants, their burrowing in the potting mixture can cause water to flow through the potting soil and your plants won’t be getting the water they need ,this is a problem if there is a large population of worms in the plant pot. Another problem with worms in pots is that the worm castings they produce can prevent water draining freely through the drain holes in the pot.
While earthworms are usually harmless to plants in the ground and can be enormously beneficial there are both pros and cons to their use in potted plants especially house plants and to better understand the relationship that plants and worms have with each other here are a few things that I have learned.
Are there any benefits of having worms in potted plants?
There is no doubt that worms aerate the soil and prevent soil compaction and by tunneling through the soil,plants roots are supplied with much needed oxygen .
The castings or worm manure are one of the best organic plant foods to feed your plants. These castings being completely soluble are used quickly by your plants providing an instant source of plant food. Not only that but unlike other types of manure that needs to be aged and or composted before used to feed plants, worm casting is safe to use immediately and will give your plants an instant growth boost. Worm casting will slowly release nutrients over a few months and supply beneficial soil bacteria and humus to your plants.
I prefer to use worms to make organic fertilizer from our kitchen scraps in a worm farm and keep potted plants free from earthworms/composting worms.
Some of the detrimental things about having worms in pots.
For me the negatives of having worms in potted or houseplant outway any benefits and here is why.
Earthworms will eat organic matter and in some cases the plant’s roots in the potting mix you are growing your plants in. If you are using a commercially available potting mix a lot these are made up of an organic usually composted wood and plant waste or in some cases sphagnum moss or peat moss with some sort of drainage material that will open up the mix such as perlite, sand or vermiculite. This will depend on the quality of the potting mix.
If the potting soil has little or no organic material for the worms to eat then hungry earthworms will eat plant root and this will weaken the plant.
In the garden this is rarely the case as there is plenty of decaying organic material for worms to feed on.
The problem for your potted house plants is that the worms will use up all the organic material leaving the potting mix barren and unable to support plant growth.The solution is to repot the plant every year or so with fresh potting compost or potting soil.
Overcrowding of the pot with earthworms can be a problem in pots as they breed and this can cause the pot to become overcrowded if the conditions are right.
Earthworms in pots can be messy because they can leave the pot looking for greener pastures and more food. The worm castings can also clog up the drainage holes of your pots and this could lead to plants sitting in very wet soil with all the problems that can cause.
Moisture levels that earthworms prefer
If you have potted house plants that prefer either dry or wetter soil to be happy then this could be detrimental to the earthworms causes their death and dead worms in potting soil can leave a bad smell.
This can be a problem in small pots because of them having less space.Also if you forget to water for any length of time earthworms will die because they prefer a moist soil to live in.
So that is the positive and negatives of having or introducing earthworms to houseplants but I believe there is a much better way of getting the benefits earthworms and their castings for growing healthy houseplants or potted plants and that is to add worm castings to the potting mix when you are planting or repotting them.
Get the benefits of worms without the problems and they will eat up a third of your waste
There are worm farms available that are easy to use this is the one I like but you can make your own have a look at this infographic
You will need three clean buckets or plastic storage bins or you could make three wooden boxes that fit one on top of the other.
The bottom container needs to be able to hold the worm juice for you to collect and use for feeding your plants .
The top and middle container need to have holes at the bottom with a fine mesh to cover the holes and keep the worms from escaping.
Some dirt,compost or potting soil to put into the top two containers then wet whatever medium you are using to make it moist but not too wet
Get some red wrigglers or composting worms this is my recommended supplier Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm
What do composting worms like to eat?
- Fruit and peel
- Vegetable peel and scraps
- Paper but not glossy paper
- Coffee Grinds
- Aged lawn clipping if you use fresh grass clipping there is a chance they will get to hot and kill worms any pesticide or herbicide that have been used will be exremely detrimental to your worms
- Animal manure
What to avoid feeding worms.
- Salt and Salty food
- Processed food
- Dairy products of any kind
- Meat or fish
- Citrus of any kind, pineapple, tomatoes or anything of an acidic nature
- Onions or garlic
- Dog or cat droppings
- Spicy food scraps or chilli peppers
Can I use worm compost on my potted plant?
You sure can, in fact, it is probably one of the best ways to feed your indoor and outdoor potted plants. Plants in hanging baskets and in the garden will benefit from a regular
dose of organic vermicompost or worm tea.
Treat worms with care and you will have healthy and contented worms which means you get high quality organic free fertilizer for your potted plants as well as the garden and have less waste going to landfill.
Enriching your soil with natural worm fertilizer and the benefits it brings.
From my own experience using a worm farm you will get these benefits and much more.
- In the vegetable garden bigger produce with better taste
- 100% organic and chemical free
- Use it on your lawn for greener and healthier grass that will withstand hot dry conditions
- Shrubs and trees will grow stronger and be more healthy and disease and pest resistant
- Wildflowers and ornamental plants will have more colorful blooms and stronger stems
Can you use earthworms from the ground to make a worm farm? There are various types of worms that are suitable for use in a worm farm but they must be composting worms and ordinary earthworms from the garden can’t be used.
Will worm farm worms eat potato skin? Compost worms will avoid eating potato skins because of the presence of solanine which is a naturally occurring pesticide so put the potato skins in a normal compost bin and keep your worm farm healthy and happy