50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #4

50 Cocoon Challenge – the Next Generation!

Just thought I’d provide a quick (but important) update for everyone today. I had a look in the original 50 Cocoon Challenge bin yesterday to see how things were coming along, and not only did I notice that almost all the worms in the bin are now mature, but I actually found some new cocoons!

I tracked down at least a few just to make sure that I wasn’t finding old cocoons that didn’t hatch. Aside from the fact that there were multiple cocoons (that hadn’t been noticed the last time I looked in the bin), I am quite confident these are new ones simply based on the appearance. Recently laid cocoons definitely look different than those that have been sitting for awhile. Generally they are firmer and lighter in color, and the ‘neck’ zones (where clitellar mucus ring becomes constricted and closes) tend to be more pronounced.

Just as an aside – I also quickly checked the manure bin yesterday and was not able to find any newly hatched worms. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when that happens.

I should also mention that I’m thinking about starting up yet another 50 cocoon challenge – this time using only moistened cardboard. This was a suggestion from one of our readers, and I think it will be a fun one to test out as well! These cocoon challenges are getting addictive!

Previous 50 Cocoon Challenge Posts
The 50 Cocoon Challenge
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #1
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #2
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #3
50 Cocoon Challenge – Horse Manure

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    • Mark Tranter
    • July 27, 2009

    Hi Bentley,
    I am enjoying your articles a lot – fascinating stuff. I have recently been having a bit of a root round in my various worm-bins and did something similar to what you describe (although in a less scientific way!). I have put the bedding that seemed to have lots of cocoons in it (plus some new bedding) in an nice cosy indoor bin. I have put my big “breeders” in another bin outside full of fresh bedding. I have then put some almost exhausted bedding in my well-composted compost heap (well-past any therophilic action!) along with any smaller worms that I found. I am thinking they will have a ball in there and hopefully breed lots! I’ve also got another bin outside that is also quite well-stocked with cocoons. Anyway I am hoping to see some interesting things in a few weeks time.

    By the way, my worms seem to prefer horse-manure and sawdust as a bedding. And I also save my coffee grounds for them. I have yet to pluck up the courage to go begging at my local costa. Don’t they give you a funny look when you ask?
    (my nickname with the kids I work with is “The Worminator”!)

    • Duff in VT
    • July 28, 2009


    I am salvaging cocoons from one older bin and putting them in my new stacking bin. Is there any particular thing you should/should not do to the cocoons for best hatching rates. For instance, do you gather with your fingers or a small spoon ? Should you try to duplicate the conditions you found them in, like taking some of the original bedding where you found them? I want as high a success rate as I can manage so any help would be appreciated.

    • Bentley
    • July 30, 2009

    MARK – all sounds cool! Do keep us posted!


    DUFF – One recommendation would definitely be to keep them moist in their new habitat to help stimulate hatching. Other than that, basically creating a similar habitat to that found in the bin should be fine. As for cocoon handling, I wouldn’t worry too much about taking extra precautions, other than not squishing them of course! I use dish gloves when working with the worms/compost (helps to keep the gunk out from under my nails) so I’m usually wearing these when picking up cocoons as well. Using a small spoon may actually help you to pick them up, so that’s a good idea to try out.

    • Jim
    • July 31, 2009

    When the worm eggs start turning from a greenish color to a redish color you know that are about 20 to 25 day old eggs. Moisture is the most important part in making sure your eggs hatch out. Without good moisture the eggs will just not hatch. Worm eggs can sit around for years and will only hatch when the tempurate and moisture are at the right levels.

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