Cocoon Production in Different Materials – Day 21

I guess it’s been almost 21 days since my last blog post, since the one before this was my original post in this series! lol


I have some interesting results to share from my Tiny Tub 4-Worm Cocoon Production experiment! Just to quickly review – back in late December, I set up 3 little systems using sour cream tubs, and added 4 “breeder” Red Worms to each of them. One of the tubs had only aged manure as the habitat/food material, another one had wood chips (with leaves chipped in as well) + a small amount of the manure, while the third contained shredded corrugated cardboard + a small amount of the manure (same amount as in wood chip bin).

The basic idea was to see how cocoon production differed between the systems over time.

I ended up doing an assessment on Day 10 (and shared the results with the email list – but not here on the blog).

Here are the cocoon count numbers for Day 10:

Manure Only – 14
Cardboard (with small amount of manure) – 15
Wood Chip Mix (with small amount of manure) – 19

A decent cocoon-laying rate to aim for with Red Worms is 3 cocoons per adult worm per week (see: “Will a Red Worm Population Double in 3 Months?“). But temperatures down in my basement are quite cool (around 17 C or 63-ish F), so I actually wasn’t expecting to hit that.

The Day 10 numbers were a pleasant surprise – especially in the case of the wood chip treatment (although there is a weird sidenote to discuss about that one in a minute).

And, while I like to think that I sorted through the material very carefully for the counts, there is even a reasonable chance that I actually missed some cocoons.

Fast forward to today, Day 21…

Checking on the systems after 3 weeks isn’t a bad idea since we may start to see some young worms hatching out fairly soon (and I wanted to get a decent pre-hatchling cocoon estimate).

Here are the cocoon numbers for Day 21:

Manure Only – 29 (2.42 cocoons per worm per week)
Cardboard (with small amount of manure) – 42 (3.5 cocoons per worm per week)
Wood Chip Mix (with small amount of manure) – 48 (4 cocoons per worm per week)

Honestly – I am pretty blown away by this. Like I said, I was actually expecting to be UNDER the “3 cocoons per week” ideal (which was of course the case for the manure-only treatment). I’m obviously not going to read too much into this – but it has given me lots of ideas for directions to head (and I actually have quite a few other small systems up and running now to continue testing cocoon production).

Getting back to the “weird sidenote”…

On Day 10, one thing I noticed about the wood chip mix treatment was that there were some strange looking cocoons. They were elongated and curved – usually with one or more constrictions. Kinda like little peanuts in appearance. One of the worms had a clitellum that looked a little odd, but I didn’t give it much thought.

Today, I found a total of 10 of these wonky cocoons (see image below) and, once again I noticed something “off” about the clitellum of one of the worms. It was almost as though it was split into two separate halves and they were out of alignment (best way I can explain it – lol).

Of course, the BIG question is whether or not these cocoons are even viable! I definitely plan to test this out – and just generally, to continue on with the experiment to see how many worms a tub like this can even support.

To boost nutrition levels a bit, I decided to add a teaspoon of chick starter dry feed to each bin. I simply hollowed out a little trench, sprinkled it in and covered it over. I then sprayed all 3 bins with some water to boost moisture levels a bit.

I will likely give the tubs another 10 days or so before assessing again.

Stay tuned – I think all this “cocoon stuff” is going to get even more interesting in the weeks and months ahead!

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    • John r Nuckols
    • January 14, 2019

    Morning sir.
    I’ve found these results very interesting, and would like to bring up that they seem to follow what was observed in the paper “Pasley 100”, in that poor quality food and bedding seems to increase cocoon production. I’m looking forward to more info.

    • Bentley
    • January 14, 2019

    Well fasten your seatbelt, John! Definitely a lot more on the way relating to all this! Just make sure you are signed up for the email list.

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