European Nightcrawlers – Eisenia hortensis
My new worms arrived today and needless to say I am very excited – almost excited as when I received my first batch of red worms (many moons ago now). I’ve never seen a ‘Euro’ before (aside from photos), and was surprised by just how different they look from my red wigglers. Aside from the obvious size difference, they seem to be much more of a brown colour, but still display the distinct banded pattern typically seen in Eisenia worms.
Given the quantity of worms a received (likely close to a 1 lb) I decided to split them between the two aged bins I set up for my worm composting videos. I had originally planned to start my “4 worm experinment” in one of them, but I’ll start a new one for that. It has been about a month and a half since I set up the bins, so much of the food waste is very well decomposed and not even recognizable – I have little doubt that the microbial population is quite rich (certainly lots of visible fungal mycelia). Moisture seems to be well balanced in the bins, but a little on the dry side so I made sure to add some more water. When I checked back on the worms after letting them sit for a bit they seemed to be exploring their new surroundings quite readily (definitely a good sign – they came in a decent amount of bedding, so they would have stayed in it had the bin conditions not been to their liking).
I received the worms as a thank-you gift from my worm farmer friend, Jeff. I’m in the process of helping him set up a website for his business (and will certainly provide more info once it’s ready for visitors). Jeff was kind enough to send the worms via priority post, and made sure to label the box well. The postal delivery lady seemed to get a real kick out of saying “enjoy your worms”, as she handed me the package! Oh, the things we worm fanatics have to put up with – I tell ya!!!
Some More European Nightcrawler Info
As mentioned, Euros are a larger cousin of the red wiggler. They are also known as ‘Belgian Nightcrawlers’, ‘Euros’, and ENCs for short. Another very common scientific name is Dendrobena veneta – this is what they were referred to prior to the change over to Eisenia hortensis. The former name is still used extensively in Europe.
Due to their larger size, Euros make an ideal bait worm. I’ve got such a soft spot for worms these days that I can’t imagine putting one on a hook anymore (and I’m a pretty avid fisherman), but I can definitely see how they would be ideal based on their size alone – they are significantly bigger than a red worm, but smaller than a ‘dew worm’ (‘Canadian Nightcrawler’ – Lumbricus terrestris), which are often TOO big. I’ve read that they are incredibly durable on a hook even in very cold and brackish waters – thus making them a very versatile bait.
As composting worms, research seems to indicate that they are not as ideally suited for the task as Eisenia fetida. They have a lower rate of reproduction and take considerably longer to mature. That being said, I’ve been told they can be more tolerant of poor bin conditions and low food levels – more apt to stay put as compared to red worms.
I will certainly be very interested to test them out for myself to see what they are capable of, and of course will continue to share my findings here on the blog!