Euros vs Reds-3-8-12

Today I decided it was time to do a thorough examination of my “Euros vs Reds Head to Head Challenge” bins. As you may recall, I managed to get the experiment back up and running (after replacing most of the Euros I killed early on) towards the end of January. On Feb 9th I discovered that all six Red Worms had indeed survived (I could only find three the last time I had checked), and by Feb 21st it was looking like the Reds were possibly starting to get ahead of the Euros when I found two Red Worm cocoons and only one Euro cocoon.

Well, let’s just say I was in for a pretty BIG surprise when I went through the bins today!
😯

I started with the Red Worm bin, carefully removing all of the bedding looking for cocoons, juveniles and adult Red Worms. I took my time so as to ensure that my counts were as accurate as possible.

I ended up finding 18 Red Worm cocoons – this seemed pretty impressive considering how few worms are in the bin, and the fact that I could only find two cocoon the last time I checked (a couple of weeks ago)! I didn’t find any juveniles, and strangely, only found four adults (was expecting to find six). I think I will be doing a quick double check on that fairly soon just to make sure I didn’t forget to add one or two to my tally etc.

As you might imagine (based on my mention of a “BIG surprise”), it was in the Euro bin that things really got interesting! I naturally assumed it was going to be a lot easier to track down cocoons in this bin. For one thing, I figured there would be fewer of them. I also assumed that given the larger size, they would be a lot easier to spot. I was wrong in both cases!

Total Euro cocoons found: 33 (nearly twice as many as the Red Worms)

I have little doubt that I ended up missing some as well. I kept finding them in material I thought I had carefully sorted through. What made things challenging in this bin is that the cocoons were ending up well-hidden in among the worm casts, which were more abundant and larger than in the Red Worm bin.

All six adult Euros were easily found, as were two juveniles (second image below). I’m not too surprised to have found these young worms given the fact that I added two cocoons to the Euro bin when I started it up again (thus giving the Euros a head-start in terms of producing offspring).


In both bins, apart from worms, I found lots of tiny fast-moving larvae. Based on the fact that they had legs I knew they must be some sort of beetle larvae – very likely Rove Beetle larvae.

Sure enough, I ended up finding quite a few of the (even-faster-moving) adults. I’m still surprised that I was able to capture one on film! lol
Close up they do almost look like ants, don’t they? But they are actually very small – and exhibit the characteristic Rove Beetle upright tail when moving around.


Anyway – I’m REALLY interested to see how things progress from here. I thought for sure that the “advantages” I was giving the Euros initially were going to disappear very quickly, with the Red Worms growing in number much more rapidly. Now I’m not so sure! I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
8)

Previous Posts in Series
Euros vs Reds-2-21-12
Euros vs Reds-2-09-12
Euros Vs Reds – Take Two…and…ACTION!
The Euros vs Reds Head to Head Challenge

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Comments

    • Saleem
    • March 9, 2012

    Do you know how many baby worms hatch from a single cocoon? Is it just one?

    • Bentley
    • March 9, 2012

    Hi Saleem,
    This would likely depend on a variety of factors. Some average numbers I’ve come across in the vermicomposting literature are 3 (per cocoon) for Red Worms, 1 for Euros. If this turns out to be the case in this experiment, the Red Worms will certainly catch-up at some point!
    We shall see!
    8)

    • Alan
    • March 10, 2012

    What is the differance between EURO and The Red worms. I’m new at this trying to get all the info I can I live in Colorado we are at 5800′
    does this make a differance on growing and composting with worms.
    I have a WF 360 had it for about 3weeks now. I’m going to start a RM bin in the next week or so. I’m going to experiment to see witch works better?
    Alan

    • Kevin Jiang
    • March 12, 2012

    I’ve noticed that when the euros have a lot of space they lay coccoons like crazy. After a while though, they stop producing as quickly.

    • Wayne
    • March 13, 2012

    Bentley,

    The pictures of the worms above seem to be that of a Compost Worm, Eisenia veneta. I don’t see it being called a European earthworm anywhere on the internet. It is one of two “Stripy earthworms”, the other being the Red Wiggler, Eisenia fetida, which everyone is familiar with.
    From what I have seen, European earthworms do not have stripes like the ones you show in the pictures.

    • Bentley
    • March 13, 2012

    ALAN – Euros and Reds are closely related (same genus, Eisenia), but Euros are larger, and tend to be slower to grow and reproduce (according to the literature).
    —–
    KEVIN – That’s a really interesting observation, and supports some info I’ve received from a very experienced professional Euro breeder.I’m going to test that out for myself.
    —–
    WAYNE – not sure what “European earthworm” you think I’m referring to (didn’t use that term anywhere as far as I can tell). Sounds like we’re talking about the same worm, but our scientific names may differ. There are some issues with the nomenclature of European Nightcrawlers, and I actually (for once) prefer to just stick with the common name (Euro, or European Nightcrawler) for exactly that reason. If need be, I typically use “Eisenia hortensis” as the scientific name, which according to Dr. Clive Edwards and others is the same thing as “Dendrobaena veneta” – but not everyone seems to agree on that.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
    🙂

    P.S. Eisenia fetida are not always necessarily striped in an obvious manner (but do always at least tend to have striping near the tail tip – which is typically yellow in color)

    • Wayne
    • March 14, 2012

    Bentley,

    When you said “Euros”, I naturally interpreted that to mean European earthworms. What type of red worm are you doing your study with? There are several.
    I did find a description of Eisenia hortensis on this website:
    http://www.ecrater.com/p/8717787/european-jumbo-red-nightcrawler-worms

    “European Red Worms also known as european nightcrawlers, or bulgium red worms “Eisenia Hortensis” make an excellent multipurpose worm that is an excellent compost worm and also an excellent fishing worm. They are also good for use as an exotic pet food, especially where a larger worms are desired.
    The name “european nightcrawler” is actually a misnomer. These are not real nightcrawlers by scientific standards and they go by many other names such as hybrid reds, pink reds, Belgium redworms, dutch worms, super worms. They are smaller than Canadian Nightcrawlers, especially in length but they get quite fat when fed properly. These worms are often sold in bait shops as “Red Worms,” but then some times other types of worms are sold by the same name. I know it is confusing that is why I give the scientific names for all of our worms.”
    ____
    Thanks for the tip on Eisenia fetida at the end of your message. I thought and have read that they had to be striped all the way down their body. I do have some that have a striped tail tip, but they are dark from that point up to their heads. These I have dug out of a compost pile this weekend and most of them seem to be the redhead worm, Lumbricus rubeilus, another European redworm.

    • Bentley
    • March 14, 2012

    Hi Wayne,
    I haven’t had my Red Worms classified by a professional worm taxonomist (not that there are too many of them I would trust with the task – lol), but they are either Eisenia fetida or Eisenia andrei- or a mix of both. They are very similar worm and often occur in mixed populations (but do not interbreed). I just refer to them as E. fetida (or sometimes E fetida/andrei) for the sake of keeping things simple. Until such time as the scientific taxonomy of composting worms instills in me a lot more confidence, I’m just going to keep going with my mellow approach. lol

    Funny the paragraph you shared (from the other site) talks about European Nightcrawler being a misnomer, yet goes on to mention “Hybrid Reds” as another name. Of the two, I would definitely say that’s far more of a misnomer (as is “Pink Reds”). These are definitely NOT hybrid worms – nor are their any composting species that can be bred with one another to create “hybrids” as some would suggest. They are all genetically distinct species. Sure if you have a serious biotech lab at your disposal, and the skills to do it, it could be done – lol – but yeah, for the rest of us it’s just not going to happen!
    🙂

    Lumbricus rubellus is actually very easy to tell apart from E. fetida/andrei. It does not have any striping, it doesn’t have a yellow tail tip, and most significantly – it has an obviously flattened tail tip, not the conical tail tip that E. fetida/andrei have. Adults of L rubellus also tend to be a fair bit larger than the other “Red Worms”.

    • Wayne
    • March 14, 2012

    What do you know about Lumbricus rubellus red worms for indoor compost bin use, as compared to Eisenia fetida? I saw somewhere that they do not reproduce well. Got a bunch of them in my compost pile though! 🙂 I don’t know if I should just put these back in my outdoor compost pile and get some red wigglers for my indoor bin.

    • Lynn Dampman
    • October 23, 2018

    I know your pictures above and the comments are old but I’ve been vermicomposting since 1980 and just came across rove beetles after a move to a nearby town in 2006. Suddenly I was inundated with these little guys that seemed to be eating my baby worms. I had a hard time getting rid of them. You didn’t mention them as being a nuisance. What is your experience?

    • Bentley
    • October 26, 2018

    Hi Lynn
    I’ve had lots of rove beetles in my systems over the years. They’ve never had any noticeable impact on the worm populations. My hunch has always been that there are so many other critters in there for them to eat (prime example being springtails) that the worms don’t even necessarily end up being their primary target. I personally prefer having predators in my systems since it really seems to help keep things balanced (far less chance of being overrun by fruit flies and fungus gnats, for example).

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