May 13, 2020

Worms spend most of their available time eating, as this is something they love to do. Just like many living creatures, worms have things they like eating and things they do not. Worms flourish on a balanced diet and they have a preference for eating their food as it starts to decompose.

Worms can consume virtually any organic matter that was once alive; this includes lots of healthy food remnants such as veggies, fruits and grains. Not only are these items remarkable for human health, it also provides sustenance for your small wiggly buddies. Below we will explore the feeding habits of both the red wigglers and nightcrawler worms:

What Do Worms Eat – Red Wigglers

When raising red wigglers, it is important for you to be knowledgeable about feeding them properly. You will be happy to know that feeding them is actually quite simple. For best result, they require decomposing organic wastes which have chopped or cut up into smaller pieces and are then buried under the ground. This will help to prevent the buildup of odor and to keep away unwanted pests. Animal manure is also among the best things you can feed to your red wigglers and it should already be days old and the product of rabbits and other veggie-eating animals. Specific things that can be fed to red wigglers include:

• Fruits and Vegetables (Peels and Uncooked Veggies)
They can be fed variation of these foods so long as citrus fruits and pineapple are not included because of their high levels of acidity.

• Crushed Egg Shells
These supply much needed grit that helps with digestion. Additionally, it helps to increase the pH level of the bin, helps in reproduction and provides calcium.

• Starchy Food Wastes
These can include pasta, oatmeal and bread.

• Coffee Grounds
For this, a nearby coffee shop could be a good source of larger quantities of free used grounds. You could also include used tea bags and coffee filters.

• Garden Wastes
Fallen leaves and dried grass clippings are also remarkable items to include.

• Bedding Materials
The red wigglers should be able to eat the bedding materials placed inside your worm kit. These include newspaper shreds and pre-soaked peat moss, coconut coir and soil (avoid clay and the sandy types).

What Do Worms Eat – Night Crawlers

These large nocturnal earthworms are kept as pets sometimes; however, they are mainly used as food for other animals and fishing lures. Regardless of the purpose, they must be fed to live but thankfully, not much is needed where nutrition is concerned. They will consume virtually anything, from paper-based garbage to ground meat. However, it is important to take note of the amount they are fed since they can be indirectly killed from overfeeding.

These worms consume decomposing matter or pretty much anything that is finely grounded and sufficiently soggy. For the ones that are being raised for food or used as pets, they should be fed things that will get them healthy so that they will live longer or they will not poison the animals to which they are meant to feed.

Night crawler farmers commonly use chicken mash and two types of this are available – chick starter and laying mash, which is more nutritious. If you are not concerned with what happens to the worms once they are grown (for individuals who raise them as fish lures), they can be fed the skins of fruits and vegetables, finely shredded paper-based trash and molded bread. Ensure that the food is damp or they will not be able to consume it.

Once the decision as to be made about what to feed the night crawlers, they will have to be fed. It should be noted that these worms emerge on the surface to feed and they will also respond to water. As such, small amounts of food should be placed on top of the soil and enough water to make it damp, not soaked; the aim is not to drown them.

When the night crawlers are being fed, you should consider how slowly they consume their food and what it becomes when allowed to decompose prior to being eaten. Meats and some other items could poison the soil when decomposed and actually kill the night crawlers.

Therefore, they have to be given just enough food without too much being left over after feeding. Food should not be piled in the environment, unless you are not really concerned about them since they are being raised to become fish lures. If you notice that they are dying, take them out of the environment and switch out the old soil and put in fresh, damp soil before putting the worms back.

What Not to Feed Worms

Living in a confined, condensed area makes it necessary for harmful foods and foods they dislike to be kept away from the worms. For example, if the pH levels of the bin is too acidic it could be harmful to the worms. Additionally, worms breathe via their skin and there are foods that will irritate the process. Some foods will cause quite a stink when thrown into a compost bin and could attract vermin like rats. These are few of the reasons your worm farm or composting bin should be free of the items listed below:

• Whole eggs, milk, butter, cheese, sour cream and other dairy products
• Anything greasy or oily like bones, meats and fats
• processed foods like peanut butter and canned sauces
• Limes, oranges, lemons and other citrus
• Garlic and onions
• Peppers and other spicy foods
• Pesticide-treated yard trimmings
• Soap
• Non-biodegradable items like glass, plastic and metals
• Poisonous plants like oak, sumac and poison ivy
• Paper with colored ink or a glossy finish

If you are operating a worm farm, particularly if you own a larger-scale system like a worm ranch, buying lots of fresh veggies and fruits will be great for both you and your worms. When you are shopping for groceries, you should also keep your worms in mind!

About the author 

Gwen Freeman

Gwen Freeman is a keen gardener and blogger. She has a passion for organic gardening and teaching others how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Gwen has been involved with vermiculture for over 10 years.