Worms escaping into bottom bin?

by Wynand
(Villiersdorp Western Cape)

Hi There,


I have two worm farms running. The one I bought, the other home made. The one I bought has been up and running for about a year now and the second one for about 4 months.

I have, in the past 2 months, noticed that my worms, in both farms have a tendency to escape into the bottom bins and end up in the worm tea. Some of them drowned but I check on a daily basis now and most days I recover worms from the bottom bin.

It stated with the new bin first and I thought I had made to many holes in the bottom. I've been contemplating taking everything out and placing a piece of mesh (Shade cloth) on the bottom to still allow the liquid to drain but the worms will not be able to escape.

The bins get some afternoon sun. Could it be that they heat up too much?

I cover the surface with cardboard or newspaper which I keep moist by spraying it with water every morning.

Why is this happening? Are my bins overcrowded or am I doing something wrong?

Regards
Wynand

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Sep 21, 2016
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Re: Why are my worms escaping into the bottom bin!
by: Stephan

Hello Wynand,

it's great to hear that you got 2 worm farms going and are part of the worm composting community for some time now.

Although compost worms are usually feeding near the top of their worm bin they are moving nearly constantly through their bin and it is not uncommon for a few of them to end up in the bottom tray of their worm bin that is meant to store the worm tea. Worms do breath through their skin and are able to live for quite some time submerged in water or worm tea as long as the liquid contains enough oxygen. Good ways to prevent worms from drowning are to make sure that most of the produced worm tea is drained of as soon as possible leaving only a little of it in the bottom tray. An easy way to achieve this is to place bucket underneath the tap of the worm bin and leave it always open. This way there won't be any build up of worm tea inside the bin.

Alternatively one can place some stones or a brick in the bottom tray that will act as a safe island for worms should they be stranded for some time in the bin with a lot of worm tea in it.

To reduce the number of worms that will crawl into the bottom bin its a good idea to cover the floor of the bin that is containing the worms with one or two sheets of newspaper, which will still let the excess liquids drain into the bottom tray but will act as a barrier for the worms. Shade cloth could obviously do the same job as long as the mesh is fine enough. Worms can squeeze themselves through tiny openings if they get a chance.

Morning- or afternoon sun should not be a problem as long as there is enough bedding inside the worm bin to shelter the worms should it really become very hot.

Moist cardboard or newspaper are good as as covers of the worm food. They act as natural barriers against unwanted pests, keep the food and bedding longer moist and allow the worms which don't like light to crawl right to the top of their food to feed.

As long as there are only a few worms ending up in the bottom of your worm farm you shouldn't be alarmed but if they migrate in big numbers into the lower parts of your worm farms it could indicate that there is something wrong inside the bin and you might have unwanted visitors like black soldier fly maggots in your bin.

But the way you described your set up and maintenance of your worm bins it sounds as if your bins are running smoothly.

If you need more information have a look at the article

http://www.worm-composting-help.com/starting-a-worm-farm.html

and some of the other articles that can be found in the "worm composting basics section."

Kind regards and happy worming

Stephan Kloppert
Author of "How to start a profitable worm business on a shoestring budget"

Editor of www.worm-composting-help.com

Regards
Wynand

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