28 Worm Experiment

Young European Nightcrawlers
Young European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis) at various stages of development.

Inspired by my ‘Four Worm Experiment‘, one of our loyal readers, Alicia P., decided to try out her own small experiment. Instead of four Red Worms however, she opted for 28 European Nightcrawlers. Here are the results she shared with me today (and gave me permission to post here).

On 2/3/08 I started this bin with 28 adult Eisenia
worms, all the EHs from my “wild” worm bin (in case you were
wondering if there was significance to the number 28. There isn’t!).

On 2/14 I poked around, eager to see if the EHs were reproducing. They
were! I found 60 cocoons at that time– just 11 days from start-up.

Today (3/27/08), just shy of 2 months, I went through my bin and was
delighted with what I found. Realize that the numbers of cocoons and
hatchlings is surely under-representative of the actual numbers. I find
that the hatchling EHs are much, much more difficult to spot that
hatchling EFs. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I know quite a few managed to
get past my searching. I’m putting the VC from the EH bin into its own
storage container. In 6 weeks or so, I’ll check it and see what I find.
I’m sure I’ll find juveniles and some babies.

So, today’s results:

Adults: 25 (I have no idea what happened to
3 of them)
Cocoons: 148 (This is not counting old, hatched
cocoons, of course, just currently viable cocoons)
Hatchlings & Juveniles: 251

I’ve read that EHs are slower reproducers than EFs, but my own small
experiment has not proven this true. When I compare the production of my
EF breeder box with this EH bin, they are tied at least in cocoon
production. The EF may have an edge on number of hatchlings per cocoon.
I am not curious enough to try to calculate that– that would require
too much time & effort for my schedule.

Anyway, I’m excited about this. It looks like by summer’s end I’ll have
a nice, thriving EH collection. Online, most places site 250-300 EHs per
pound. I should easily have a pound of EH by then, after starting with
just 29 adults.

You have EHs, Bentley. I’d sure love to have you reproduce my 29-EH bin
and see what results you get. It would be quite interesting to compare
our results. Any chance I could talk you into it? FWIW, my 29 are in a
3-gallon Rubbermaid container.

As I told Alicia, her observation and reporting skills certainly put me to shame (when compared to my reporting thus far for the ‘Four Worm Experiment’). haha!

As far as Euro reproduction goes, I too have been pleasantly surprised by how readily and quickly they seem to produce offspring. I think we’re going to have to put Euros and Reds head-to-head this year so we can really figure out if there is any validity to the ‘slow reproduction’ etc claims in the literature!

Thanks again to Alicia for sharing her results. If anyone else has been doing different worm-related experiments be sure to let me know!

[tags]worm reprduction, red worms, red wigglers, european nightcrawlers, eisenia fetida, eisenia hortensis[/tags]

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