April 16, 2015

Ask Wonder Worman

My worm bins are full of fruit flies. What should I do?
— Invaded in Idaho

Dear Invaded,
There are few things you can do. You need to make sure the food on top is covered with bedding which seems to keep the flies away from the bin. You can also buy fly paper. It is inexpensive and non toxic. Just keep in mind, the flies will be gone over the winter. It is a seasonal annoyance that won’t last too long. Don’t let that deter you from the wonders of the worms.
— WW


 

I have had wigglers in my cone-shaped compost container for about 5 years. They survived all 5 winters and all 5 summers – up to now. The 90+ temperatures and my forgetting to add water has apparently reduced live worms to zero – the composter actually steamed this summer! My question is this: How much heat (or cold) will the eggs withstand? Assuming that the worm eggs remain within the worm castings in the compost barrel, will they hatch out in a new, ideal environment? Assuming the eggs are viable, how long will it take for me to see new worms?
— Steamy in Sisters

Steam coming from any bin is not a good sign. Sure we humans like the occasional dip in the hot tub, or lounge in a sauna, but Red Wigglers prefer their moderately cool and moist environment.
I have found that my Super Composting Red Wiggler egg/cocoons have withstood both cold and warm temperatures – however, even with Super Composting powers, Red Wigglers will not survive when exposed to prolonged spans of extreme temperatures – especially heat. Interestingly enough, last winter a friend of mine had her Wonder Worman worm bin freeze solid (Not recommended). When Spring came and the bedding thawed, she had worms! Her Red Wiggler eggs/cocoons went into a dormant state and the warmer temperatures provided the ideal environment for them to hatch. It takes approximately 30 days for the worms to emerge from the cocoons.
— WW


 

I need to harvest my castings. What happens if I get some worms in my flower beds?
— Wigglers in Roses

Red Wigglers will survive in flower beds and the soil. They will feed off the decaying material on the surface of the soil. If the weather drops below 40, they will burrow deeper into the soil. They are very hardy creatures.
— WW


 

When should I remove the insulation around my outdoor worm bins?
— Warming Up in Warm Springs

Keep track of the weather in your area. If the forecast calls for warmer nights (above 30) for a week or so, then it would be a good time to remove the insulation. Weather does change often in Central Oregon, especially the early part of spring, so a good time would be mid May.
— WW


 

I am beginning to notice fruit flies. What should I do?
— Fruity in Florence

Fruit flies are more of a nuisance to humans than they are to the worms. In the past, I have tacked fly paper to the inside of the bin. I bought these at my local hardware store. This season, I have a moist sheets of newspaper that layers the top of the bedding. This seems to keep some out. I have also left a thin layer of hay on some bins. That seems to help too.
— WW


 

Can I feed my worms used tea bags?
— Loose Leaf in Lancaster

Sure, I have and they’ve eaten them. I just made sure I removed the staple that connects the tag. They also love to eat coffee grounds and filters.
— WW


 

Can I feed my worms shrimp shells?
— Shelly by the Seashore

I have never feed shrimp shells to my worms so I am not quite sure. If you would like to experiment, start an “experimental bin”. I would just make sure the shells are free of any remaining shrimp and any seasoning. There may be some odor if the meat is left on and the worms may not like the seasoning. If anyone has tried this, please let me know.
— WW

UPDATED QUESTION
Thanks to those that have replied to this question. I do enjoy hearing from others, reading your e-mails, and sharing our knowledge on Red Wigglers.
The response from others who have thrown them in their bins is – Yes you can! Some believe the worms eat them or they are possibly just broken down over time.
— WW


 

How come “This poop don’t stink”?
— Fresh Breeze in Brothers

Think of the castings, the poop from the worms, like soil. Soil has a distinct earthy smell and that is due to it’s content. Soil is made up of decaying organic matter along with broken rock particles. Worm castings are the end product of the digestion of decaying matter.
— WW

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