The worms in my bin become deformed and then die

So the first parts of the worms in my bin were swollen then parts of them looked almost deflated. After a few days they died? Am I starving them or are they dying of a disease?

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Sep 16, 2016
Re: Worms are dying. String of pearls disease
by: Stephan


I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your worm farm and your worms are dying. It is difficult to analyze accurately what is happening to your worms without some pictures and a little more background information but sounds to me that your worms are suffering from the so called string of pearls disease which unfortunately ends up in most cases with the loss of most worms in a worm bin. You can find a picture of a worm that was having this disease in an article that I published a while ago. It is called "Earthworms are dying! String of pearl disease?" and can be found on my website.

Sadly there is very little reliable information about this ailment around but it follows usually a similar pattern.

The worms get usually sick in new worm bins that have been set up and running for just a few weeks.

Some parts of their bodies become swollen, others deflated as if some of their body segments have either exploded or withered away. This way they look a little like a string of pearls. Some of them lose parts of the body or virtually separate into several pieces. Once they die they start to become a smelly mess.

With time more and more worms that live inside that worm bin will become effected and ultimately die. It's a sad thing to watch. I have been professionally involved in worm composting for close to 20 years now and luckily have only once experienced this scenario in one of my worm farms.

The only thing that is left to do once this disease has started in a worm bin is to get rid of all the contents of the bin in the process maybe trying to save as many healthy worms as possible and to start the worm bin again with fresh bedding and a new batch of worms.

The disease is as well known as protein poisoning, indicating that the worms in a new worm bin had access to to much protein which made them sick. However as I mentioned before there has not been substantial research done on this disease and to my knowledge and I have kept worms on a high protein diet for years without any problems.

The key must be the worm bedding that is available to the worm herd inside their bin. It is their home and safe hiding place in case the environment in the food layer of their worm bin has become to acidic or uninhabitable and life threatening for the worms. If you want to start a new worm farm and want some guidance have a look at the articles in the Beginners section of my website. Good articles to start are


Have a look at those and I am sure they should help you to get your worm farm of to a good start.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards and happy worming

Stephan Kloppert

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

Editor of

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