What do earthworms eat in captivity?

What to feed your worms

How much to feed worms

  • Add up to 2.5cm per day
  • Uneaten food should not be more than 5cm deep
  • Only add more food as it is eaten

It is very important that the hungry bin is not overfed. A fully functioning bin will have up to 3kgs (6.5lbs) of compost worms. They prefer to eat their food as it begins to decompose, but not if it has become slimy and smelly. If the bin is overfed, the food scraps will begin to rot before the worms can eat them. Rotting food scraps not only smell, but also interfere with the lifecycle of the worms and the operation of the bin.

Rotting food is anaerobic – or oxygen deprived. Because worms breathe through their skin, anaerobic conditions prevent the worms from breathing properly, and may cause them to die.

Worms can eat roughly their own body weight in food a day, so make sure that you only add about the same volume of food each day as there are worms. Start by feeding the worms a small amount of food each day. Each time you feed the bin, check that uneaten food is not accumulating. You could chop up large food scraps into small pieces – the smaller and softer the scraps, the easier it is for the worms to digest and process them into castings.

Slowly increase the amount you feed the worms as the population multiplies. The worms will breed and increase in numbers to match the food supply. Building up a full population of worms (about 3kgs) can take up to six months.

Remember the hungry bin is not the same as a rubbish bin. A garbage truck does not magically empty it every week! The worms cannot eat the food as fast as it is possible for you to put it in, especially if the population is small when you start. It is better to underfeed your worms than overfeed them.

A good rule of thumb is that uneaten food should be no more than 5cm deep. You can check this by digging through the top layer of the bin and checking how deep the uneaten food is. In a healthy bin finished castings should be present 5-10cm (2-4in) below the top layer. You should also be able to see a mixture of adult and juvenile worms, indicating that the worms are breeding. If uneaten food is building up, simply stop putting new food into the bin until the worms have eaten the food present.

Approximately 20cm (8in) below the surface the food should have been completely converted into worm castings. Finished castings look like high quality compost and have very little smell.

Worm eggs should also be present in the castings immediately below the food layer; signifying conditions are ideal for breeding. The worms need to be able to lay their eggs in fresh castings immediately below the food they are eating. If the bin is overfed and a layer of rotting food has formed, the juvenile worms will be unable to move upwards through the rotting layer to the fresh food when they hatch, resulting in the population declining.

To remedy a build-up of rotting scraps, you may need to gently fork a small amount of fibrous material (See FAQ 3) into the top food layer. In extreme cases the rotting food will need to be removed completely and the bin restarted, as rotten food can take a long time to break down in the bin.

What worms eat depends in part on where they live. Worms can live closer to the surface or much deeper underground. On the surface, worms eat a variety of organic materials, such as dead grass and leaves that have fallen from the trees. There are microscopic organisms that live on these leaves. These organisms provide the worm with a variety of algae, fungi and bacteria that are essential for the worm’s diet.

Worms that live deeper under the ground have a diet that is primarily raw dirt. The worms eat the bacteria, fungi and algae that are in the dirt. The dirt passes through the worm and comes out in what is known as worm casts. This is a nice way of saying excrement. These casts are very beneficial to the plants in your garden. The nutrients in the soil are partially digested by the worms, making them easily used by the plants. In addition, the process aerates the dirt in your garden, which is also beneficial to your plants.

Worms eat any organic material in the soil, this would include fruits, vegetables and plant remains.

They have no teeth, so the bits are moistened in the worm’s mouth. Food is digested in the gizzard, which acts like teeth to grind the food. The intestines break it down further and it comes out as worm castings. These castings are very beneficial to the soil in your garden. The nutrients are broken down to be used by plants and the soil is aerated to bring more oxygen to the roots of the plants.

Moisture is also very important for worms. They can’t survive without it. Worms breathe through their skin. The worm’s skin must remain moist at all times to allow it to breathe in the much needed oxygen. If their skin dries out, they will suffocate and die.

Worm Composting

Gardeners understand the importance of worms in composting. Worm composting can be done either indoors or outside in a bin. A wood bin or barrel is best for this use, since it will prevent the compost from becoming too wet, as can happen with plastic containers. The size of the container will depend on the amount of garbage you will be composting. A good rule of thumb is to allow one square foot of space per pound of weekly household material. You will also need a lid to keep moisture out of the bin. Take the barrel and drill at least eight holes in the bottom of the container. This will allow for drainage. Set the barrel on bricks to help with drainage.

There are two types of material that you will need in the bin for worm composting, bedding material and green ingredients. The green ingredients are the organic household materials you will add to the bin. The bedding material can be dead plants, fall leaves, shredded newspaper, sawdust or straw. Vary the material and use a few different materials. Add a few handfuls of soil to the bedding material to help the worms’ digestion. Fill the container about three quarters of the way with the bedding. Don’t press it down tightly, but leave air space to allow free movement of the worms.

You can dig in your garden to find earthworms for your bin or purchase them. The number of worms you need will depend on the size of the container and the amount of material you are composting. Once you have filled the container with bedding material and added the worms, you can add the green ingredients. This can be fruit and vegetable peelings, crushed eggshells and other organic materials from your home or garden, such as grass clippings and leaves. Each time you add these materials, choose a different area of the bin.

After a few months, you will see no more bedding when you open the bin. The compost will be brown and full of worm castings. Push the finished compost to one side and add new bedding materials to the other half of the bin. The worms will naturally move out of the finished compost and into the new bedding. You can then use the finished compost as needed in your garden.

Benefits of Composting

Composting has several benefits for your garden and the environment. Organic household waste is recycled in compost, which is environmentally friendly. This cuts down on the garbage in our landfills. Rather than decomposing in a landfill, the organic materials are returned to the soil to nourish your garden plants.

Compost is great fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants. You can dig it into the soil prior to planting in your garden to add nutrients to the soil. It can also be used as mulch in plant beds throughout your yard. When you are distributing the compost into your garden, you may pick up some worms with the compost. You want this because the worms are very beneficial to your garden. They aerate the soil, which helps to bring nutrients in the soil.

Keeping Pet Worms

Whatever the pits were, they didn’t break apart very easily. Black things that had once been part of fruit, they finally snapped in half to display a waxy, vaguely pinkish inside. My mother and I found the pits while we were cleaning out our worm bins, of which we have two.

Worms are probably the lowest-maintenance pets you can get—all they ask is vegetable wastes from your kitchen. They’re inexpensive to buy and even more so to keep—effectively, their food costs nothing; it’s just your food, the part you didn’t eat. They keep food waste out of the trash, and although a regular compost bin would do that just as well, worms don’t smell. Plus, they’re fascinating. For example, did you know that you can tell when your worms are happy with your eyes closed? A happy worm bin has a distinct sound: the noise of worms slithering through the castings, and a gentle popping sound.

This is not to say they don’t have problems. For one thing, worm bins may become infested with flies, moths and their larvae, who coexist with the worms and try to eat their food. My mother occasionally resorts to scooping up the spiders that set up camp in our basement and dumping them in the worm bin to catch pests.

For another, your worms may choose not to eat some things, or if they eat too much of them, they’ll die in great quantities. We once had this happen to us; we fed our worms a lot of pumpkin, whereupon almost all the contents of our worm bin died. We called it “The Great Worm Plague.”

My mother occasionally gives them a little less squash, which doesn’t hurt them, by scooping the seeds and the mush around them out of a butternut squash, which she then gives to the worms. They love the mush, but they won’t eat the seeds. I personally think this is really cool, all the more so because it makes perfect sense. Seeds germinate underground. It wouldn’t do to have worms eating all the seeds or nothing would ever grow. In fact, they won’t eat anything that might grow underground—root vegetables and their peelings, onion skins, mushrooms. I think it’s nature’s way of saying, “Don’t let anything happen to the plants and the fungi.” This is why, whatever those mystery pits were, they weren’t eaten.


If you want to keep pet worms too, they need dark, airflow, and material to burrow in and eat. To start a worm bin, take a plastic storage bin, drill small holes in the sides fairly high up for ventilation and a few small holes in the bottom for drainage. Then spray some shredded newspaper lightly with water and pour it in. Add a little food waste and red worms, and then more food waste as needed. Miss Ellen Sandbeck would tend to disagree with me on this vermiculture method. Her way of setting up a worm bin is here.

Whichever method you try, don’t let worms’ potential problems turn you off. They’re fascinating, make excellent compost (which is why we keep them), and if you’re as wacko as I am, kind of cute. In many ways, they’re perfect pets. Now, if only we could figure out what those pits are …

Photos courtesy of Mom, Wendy C.

Mold in a Can-O-Worms Worm Farm…

“We have an indoor Can-O-Worms composting system and there have been problems with mold growing shortly after we throw in any wheat or flour products. Is the mold harmful to the worms? If so, how do we stop the mold?” ~ John Price

Hi John!

Mold is a very natural process of vermicomposting and shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Wheat and flour products are great targets for mold spores, and especially with the moist dark environment in a worm bin, the growth of mold can be substantial!

Mold is not directly harmful to the worms.

In fact the worms need the mold to break down the food waste. The worms then eat the mold itself and the smaller pieces of food matter. Without mold you will still have the piece of bread lying in the bin for quite a while, and your worms will not be able to process that!

With the addition of a lot of flour products, there will be a danger of over heating in the bin if your worms cannot process it quickly enough.

Once the heat in a vermicompost bin starts rising above tolerable temperatures the worms will start working a lot more slowly and eventually die.

Also do be aware of mold spores if working around a wormery system with a lot of mold growing. Mold spores are airborne and I would not recommend breathing too much of it in, especially when some people are allergic to them!

Discover How To Grow Big Fat Composting Worms And Produce More Organic Worm Compost Faster Than Ever Before… Download Our Guide To Worm Composting Here.


See Also…

How To Grow A More Productive Veggie Garden… How To Turn The Food I Grow Into Healthy Hearty Meals… How To Keep Chickens, Rabbits & Other Livestock… How To Turn Herbs Into Natural Health & Wellness… How To Become More Self Sufficient In General…

Worm composting is the ‘golden ticket’ when it comes to maximising the produce from your garden with a natural process. It is a great way to reduce the waste you throw into the landfill and it is a great way to put nutrients back into your garden naturally. Getting started with worm composting is very easy, but there are some very common mistakes that people make. Here we explore these costly mistakes that may leave you wormless:

Letting your worms overheat

In the bright, midday Australian sun your worm bin will be cooking and the worms simply cannot handle the heat. If they don’t manage to escape they will die in a worm bin that is left directly in the sun, so you need to prevent this from happening. There are several ways that you can prevent this:

• Keep the worm-composting bin in the shade and out of direct light at all times.
• Use a compost bin made of light coloured material to keep the heat out.
• Ensure there are holes in the top of the bin that can help to allow the heat to escape.

Overfeeding your worms

While you will need to keep the supply of food up, a common mistake is to give the worms too much too fast. The worms will not be able to eat all of the waste produced by a household and if you fill your bin with composting then it will begin to mould and ferment before the worms get to it. This can clog your bin with rotting food that the worms won’t touch and you’ll soon end up with a wormless compost bin that is not fit for use as soil as it will not be properly decomposed. Instead you should slowly add food waste to the bin, allowing the worms to consume the food they have been given before you add more waste.

Overwatering the worm bed

While the soil will need to be moist so that the worms can live, there should not be too much water in the worm bed. If too much water gets in then the worms will drown in the water and you’ll be left without worms. As well as controlling the amount of water or waste juices that you add, you should also ensure that you are able to protect the worms from a deluge in the rain.

Using big chunks of food

Worms will get through big chunks of food eventually but your bin will be far more efficient if you provide well-chopped waste to your worms. This will speed the process of digestion and will also help to prevent the waste from becoming mouldy before the worms get to it.

Adding too many worms

If you add too many worms to a worm bin then they will crowd each other out and this will result in the death of potentially all of your worms. Contact our team for information on the number of worms to use for each size of bin to enable you to create a healthy and sustainable worm bin in your garden.

Avoid these common and costly worm-composting mistakes and you’ll benefit from a wonderful, natural source of nutrients for your garden and will be able to cut down on the waste that you dispose of.


Troubleshooting when problems arise

Each household provides a different atmosphere for the worms to work. Keeping a balance in your bin is important and there may be a bit of a learning curve when starting to compost with worms for the very first time. The balance may be affected by your unique climate, your household diet, and your bin maintenance and feeding schedule. If problems or concerns arise, don’t worry; there are ways to resolve them. Just ask Urban Worm Girl!

Here are some concerns that others have experienced and the answers to help you resolve similar problems. Keeping your worms healthy makes them happy and very productive composters!

Why are there fruit flies and gnats swarming around my bin?

Though other small creatures find homes in the bin and contribute to the composting process, there should not be swarms of bugs flying around it. You may not be burying the food well enough in the bin. Flies lay eggs on exposed food as part of their reproductive process, helping their young to have an immediate source of food when hatching. If fruit flies become a nuisance:

  • Stop feeding the worms for 1-2 weeks.
  • When you resume feeding, take the time to bury the new food 1-2 inches below the bedding.
  • Vacuuming remaining flying insects off the top of the bin is always helpful needed.

Mold is growing on the food in my bin, is this a problem?

Mold is a natural part of the decomposition process. Having said that, you will keep mold to a minimum by properly burying the food scraps 1-2 inches deep in the paper bedding. This will allow the worms to eat the food more quickly and it will also prevent pests. If food is exposed to air, it will be more likely to mold, so keeping it buried is helpful.

The worms aren’t eating, are they sick?

The worms will let you know when something is wrong. Noticing their behavior is a key to a happy and healthy worm bin.

If your worm bin is new and you notice that the worms are not eating, don’t worry! The worms often take their time settling into their new surroundings and getting used to your diet and feeding schedule. Give it time and keep watching.

If you have an established bin and you notice that the worms have stopped eating, let them catch up. Stop feeding them for 2-3 weeks, check to make sure that they are making their way through the food that has accumulated. Resume feeding them when you see that this food has been composted. You may be over feeding the worms. Though they work at breakneck speed for their size, they have no teeth and very small mouths. You may need to cut the scraps smaller to help speed up the process.

If you notice an odor in your bin and the worms are sluggish, the overall balance may be off. Worms like neutral bins and will be most productive when conditions are balanced. It is important to assess moisture levels, temperature, acidity and airflow in your bin. Adding newspaper bedding often helps to absorb excess moisture and increase aeration. The addition of crushed eggshells monthly will help to decrease the acidity level in your bin. Though red worms can tolerate a range of acidity, if the level is too high the worms will die. Also, minimize the amount of citrus food and avoid foods with vinegar and salad dressings.

My worm bin has a strange odor coming from it.

Odor can be caused by several different factors. A healthy worm bin should smell like soil, a pleasant smell to many. So be sure to check the balance of your bin as discussed briefly above.

If you are not sure if your bin is getting enough airflow, stir it up and mix in some additional newspaper bedding. Check to see that your air holes are not clogged. Anaerobic bacteria will not survive when oxygen is present.

If your moisture levels are too high the bin may not have sufficient oxygen levels either. In addition to the excess moisture producing an odor, the worms will be at risk of drowning. Soak up or drain off some of the excess moisture (compost tea). Dilute this run off with water and add to houseplants. Add fresh newspaper bedding and watch to make sure the moisture levels are decreasing.

Lastly, it is often the type of food that you are feeding that produces an odor. Avoid dairy and meat products as well as excessively oily foods. Some individuals are not able to tolerate the odor of broccoli in their worm bin either. Though the worms are perfectly happy to eat this healthy vegetable, it carries along with it a naturally strong smell that some find offensive.

Worm Bin Moisture

Perform the squeeze test to determine if your worm bin is too wet or too dry

The bedding in your worm bin should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. To determine if your worm bin is too wet or too dry, try the squeeze test. To perform this test, take a small handful of bedding or processed compost in your hand and squeeze it tightly.
If you find that more than a couple of drops of moisture come out, your worm bin’s conditions are too wet. One sign that a bin is too wet is that it has offensive odors. This is caused because there is not enough airflow so anaerobic bacteria (the smelly kind) thrive instead of aerobic bacteria (the odorless kind). Feeding high-moisture foods such as fruits and tomatoes can cause a worm bin to become too moist.

Add dry coir or shredded paper to reduce moisture in a worm bin.

To correct a wet bin, add dry shredded paper or coir, which will help to soak up excess moisture. You can also stop feeding high-moisture foods (fruits and tomatoes) until your vermicomposter becomes drier. We recommend keeping the spigot in the collection tray open at all times with a plastic container underneath to catch the leachate. This prevents flooding.

Although less common, worm bins can also become too dry. The Worm Factory 360 runs a little dry in contrast to sealed vermiculture systems because of its well-ventilated design.

In dry worm bin conditions, you can mist the top layer with a spray bottle.

To correct a dry bin, you should always keep a layer of moist full sheets of newspaper over the food and bedding in your top tray. If you find that your worm bin is not moist enough, you can add more high-moisture foods and re-wet the moist newspaper cover. You can mist the newspaper cover periodically with a spray bottle. In very dry conditions, very small amounts of water can be poured on top of the contents of the feeding tray and let it filter down to the lower trays. Be very careful while doing this, though – too much water can cause bedding to compact creating offensive odors.

Compost Q&A: Troubleshooting the Worm Bin

Since we started this blog in 2012, our most popular post of all time has been How to Compost in Your Apartment, an infographic that breaks down how to start a vermicomposting bin. Hopefully it’s helped more than a few people launch worm bins at home and cut down on food waste going to landfills.

Since we launched that infographic, we’ve heard from a few beginners who’ve had some questions about their worm bins. So we gathered them in one place and went to an expert for help, experienced gardener and composter Jen Wendeln. Here’s how she troubleshoots a few common vermicomposting problems:

Vermicomposting is all about creating a balanced environment for your worms. Some beginners may run across the following concerns before hitting the mark.

My worm bin is too wet.
If your worm bin gets too wet it may cause the worms to drown and die. Make sure your worm bin has a dozen or more quarter-inch holes around the bottom or lower sides for proper aeration. You can also line the bottom of the bin with fabric to help catch extra moisture. Certain foods like fruits and vegetables high in moisture content can cause excess moisture. Cut down on high-moisture foods and add more dry bedding to help solve this problem.

If your bin gets too dry, on the other hand, try spritzing it with water from time to time.

My worm bin is attracting fruit flies.
Fruit that has already started rotting before being added to your worm bin can cause a fruit fly problem. Add fruit in small pieces so the worms can digest it before the fruit decomposes. Burying the fruit under the worms’ bedding or under a sheet of newspaper helps create a barrier, preventing flies. If you have an existing fruit fly problem and you’re able to take your bin outdoors, let it air out and release some of the flies.

Also, you can create a fruit fly trap with a bowl of apple cider vinegar and a drop of detergent. Set the bowl next to your bin, clean out the trap frequently, and add fresh vinegar and detergent to get rid of a fruit fly problem.

My worm bin smells.
No one wants a smelly worm bin, especially if you live in a small apartment. Most bad smells are caused by anaerobic bacteria. Good aeration is key in keeping odors down in the worm bin. Sometimes getting in and fluffing up the bedding can help keep things aerated. Too much moisture can also cause bad smells. Adding too much food before the worms are able to digest it can create a wet environment, so make sure you are feeding the worms the right ratio. Two pounds of worms can eat a pound of food a day. If you produce more scraps than your worms can digest, store extra scraps in the freezer. Also, make sure you aren’t adding meat, bones, dairy or oily products to the bin.

My worms are escaping.
If your worms are trying to escape or have escaped it means they aren’t happy with their environment. It could be too wet or dry, too much light, or not enough air. So if you created your own bin, again, be sure it has sufficient holes on the bottom or sides. Gluing screens over the holes ensures that contents and worms stay in the bin. Worm bedding should be moist but not soaking. If you squeeze the bedding, a few drops of water produced is OK, but it shouldn’t produce more than five drops of water.

How do I separate my worms and my worm castings?
The time it takes to produce worm castings (aka worm poop) depends on your bin environment and number of worms, but in general the bedding should be changed and castings collected every four to six months. When it’s time to harvest your castings, move the bin’s contents to one side, add fresh bedding to the other side, and start adding food to the new bedding. Within a few weeks to a month most of the worms will have moved to the new bedding. Gather the contents from the other side and pile onto a sheet of plastic or newspaper. If there are worms left in the vermicompost they will move to the bottom of the pile to escape the sunlight. Scrape off the top layer of the pile and separate the castings from any bedding or leftover food scraps.

If my worms get loose into my garden, are they invasive?
Eisenia foetida, the best worm to use for vermicomposting, is native to Europe. Eisenia foetida does not live through the winter in northern climates. So if they do escape with your worm castings they won’t live that long through colder temperatures. Presently there is little concern for this species in other areas of the country, so a few escapees won’t do any harm. If you are concerned about the worms escaping, an easy way to eliminate them from your castings is to put them in a bag and freeze them for a week.

What if I can’t use all my vermicompost when I harvest it? Can I store it for later?
Yes, you can store vermicompost for later use. If your vermicompost feels damp, spread it out on a plastic sheet or newspaper and let it dry out until it has a crumbly texture and just a little moisture left. Store it in a cool, dry location in plastic bags or plastic containers with holes poked in them to ensure good air circulation. If stored in an airtight environment, it would kill off your vermicompost’s beneficial organisms.

Good luck with your worm bin! If you try this at home and have more questions, email them to .

How to Compost in Your Apartment
I Want to Compost, But…
Vermicomposting: How to Compost with Worms

Photo, middle: Kid Missile via Flickr
Photo, bottom: Joseph Bartmann via Flickr

Where do worms go to die?

James definitely caught my attention with his email subject (haha) – I thought it might also be a good topic (actually a couple of topics) to explore here.

Here is his msg:

I found one of my Canadian Night Crawlers on top of the bedding and
dead. Does that tell me something?

Hi James,

The one thing that stood out like a sore thumb in your message was “Canadian Night Crawlers” (CNCs) – so we’ll start there. Unfortunately, CNCs are NOT well suited for vermiculture. They are what’s known as “anecic” earthworms – deep burrowing soil dwellers. They need a lot of space (don’t thrive in crowded conditions) and cooler temps than composting worms (which are typically “epigeic” worms). While you can often keep them alive for extended periods of time in some sort of bin or bed, your chances of actually getting them to breed etc are pretty slim. Your best bet for raising more of these worms would probably be to set up some sort of large, undisturbed outdoor soil plot, then lay down layers of grass clippings, leaves etc (keep the area nice and moist as well).

If you are looking for a larger composting species – and one with quite a bit of versatility – the “European Nightcrawler” is definitely the way to go. You will have far greater success raising these worms in smaller systems (assuming you set them up properly) than you will with CNCs, that’s for sure.

Now, getting back to the question of where “worms go to die”!

As you have noticed already, it’s not uncommon to find dead worms up near the surface of a system – although, in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t be TOO worried if it was only one worm. When you do find dead worms it’s probably not a bad idea to dig around a bit to see if A) there are more dead worms down below, and B) there are any clues as to why worms are dying. You may want to leave the lid off for awhile (with light over top) since this allows toxic gases (like ammonia) to escape, and just generally helps to oxygenate the system (always a good thing).

What’s interesting, though, is that dead worms are often never found – unless a bunch of worms die at the same time. This is because they decompose VERY quickly – especially when temperatures are warm. Remember – they are basically just nutrient-rich bags of water, so there are plenty of other critters (in a typical worm bin) ready and willing to get rid of the evidence!

{insert evil laugh}

Anyway – sorry to be the bearer of bad news regarding your desire to raise CNCs, but hopefully this post has helped to clarify things a bit!
Best of luck!

Worm Bin Temperature

Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the bedding in your worm bin.

Red wiggler worms thrive in temperatures between 55° and 75° Fahrenheit (12° to 24° Celsius). They will slow down reproduction and feeding in extreme heat or cold, and can even die if the temperatures get too extreme.

When monitoring the temperature of your bin, it is important to remember to measure inside the worm composter, because the temperature of the moist bedding is usually lower than the outside air temperature. You can use a soil thermometer to measure the temperature of your worm bin bedding.

If your worm bin conditions are too cold, worms may congregate together in a ball that looks like ground hamburger meat to keep each other warm. If temperatures drop below 40° Fahrenheit (4° Celsius) for extended periods of time, your worms will die. There are several things you can do to keep your vermicomposter warm:

  • Feed foods that are high in nitrogen; they generate heat as they break down. These include leafy greens, lentils, peas, tofu, broccoli/cauliflower, beans, oatmeal, and mushrooms.
  • Insulate the composter – if it is placed on a cold surface, place a sheet of cardboard underneath it to help deflect the cold. You can also wrap the composter with cardboard or other insulating material to protect it from cold and drafts. Just make sure that it is not wrapped so tightly that airflow is restricted.
  • Provide a heat source – a heat lamp or spotlight can be placed over the composter to help warm it and encourage worms to migrate up to the food. Make sure the lid is on because worms are sensitive to light.

If conditions in your worm composter become too hot, worms will begin to migrate into lower trays where it is cooler. This mimics their response to a hot surface temperature in nature as well. In temperatures that exceed 85° Fahrenheit (30° Celsius), your worms can die. Never place your vermicomposter in direct sunlight. There are several things to do to keep your vermicomposter cool:

  • If your composter is outside in hot weather, find a shady spot with plenty of air circulation.
  • Make sure you keep your composter moist in warm conditions.
  • To increase airflow through the compost to cool it, you can place pieces of wood no more than ¼” thick between trays, separating them. This works best at night, and if you find that you need more air movement, you can add a fan. Just be careful that conditions don’t dry out.

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