Eisenia fetida are earthworms which are more commonly known as red wigglers. Their segmented bodies develop a dark red color as they mature. Every segment has bristles that provide grip. Their muscles expand and contract as the worms try to move around. They only grow to about 5 inches but they are voracious eaters.
Red wigglers are frequently used as bait by fishermen. They are also widely used by gardeners to produce natural fertilizers for the soil. Their castings — essentially worm poop — are filled with nutrients that plants require to grow healthy. They will keep producing organic fertilizer as long they get all of their needs.
Why Gardeners Love Red Wigglers
Although there are many other types of worms that can be used for composting, most prefer red wigglers because of their excellent traits. These worms are highly adaptable. They can survive in a wider range of environmental conditions compared to alternatives. Those who live in places that experience high heat and bitter cold can use these with greater confidence. Of course, it would be a good idea to provide them with insulation to maintain ideal conditions.
These wigglers don’t need deep soil to burrow in. A shallow layer of topsoil, compost, and decaying organic matter is enough to keep them happy. They aren’t picky eaters so you can just throw in whatever food scraps you have. Even leaves, grasses, soft woods, and animal manure are fair game. They can eat half of their body weight every day. This means they will also produce lots of worm castings every week.
These red worms live in colonies and breed at a prolific rate. They reach maturity after only 9 weeks. Gardeners won’t have any problems setting up a worm farm and keeping it going. You can purchase a readymade worm farm kit for fast and easy setup. You can also create one on your own by drawing inspiration from other DIY projects. A bin that measures 2ft on each side can accommodate as many as a thousand of these creatures.
Food for Red Wigglers
These worms will be happy stay inside the home you made for them as long as they are able to do get enough nutrition. Fortunately, their needs perfectly align with people who wish to make compost from household waste. Worms make the process faster and easier. Give them food scraps such as peelings and leftovers. It’s a good idea to weigh the amount of scraps that you produce every day. Get worms by the pound that is double this amount. For example, a pounds of scraps can feed 2 pounds of worms.
They love devouring lettuce and other leafy vegetables. Beans, carrots, potatoes, and other common ingredients are good as well. As for fruits, stick to the non-citrus types like bananas, peaches, plums, and grapes. You can mix in eggshells but be sure to crush them beforehand. You can toss in coffee filters and grounds from your machine. Tree leaves, pea vines, bean stalks, and other garden waste are fine, too. If you live on a farm, then you can add aged animal manure such as those of cows, horses, and goats. You can buy commercial worm food if available or just throw in shreds of cardboard. Do not feed them citrus fruits, human waste, pet waste, cooking oil, dairy, and meat products.
The Reproduction of Red Worms
Red wigglers are hermaphrodites which means that each of them has a pair of male and female organs. However, they cannot reproduce by themselves. They still need a partner to mate with. Sexually mature worms of this species have a swollen band near their head called the clitellum. When they mate, they align their clitellum and lock in an embrace to exchange seminal fluids. They also secrete mucus rings around their bodies which harden and slide off. These become the cocoon that protect the hatchlings until they are ready to emerge, usually within 3 months.
Red wigglers are truly fascinating creatures. If you want to try composting, then go ahead and start using all the information you learned about them. You can find many red wigglers for sale at reasonable prices. Get your own worm farm going today.