Mating Red Worms

Red Worms Caught in the Act

I took a quick look in my ‘4 Worm Experiment‘ bin this morning and found two of the adults engaged in some hanky panky! Of course, as per usual I ran for the camera to see if I can get some decent images.

As you can see, when worms mate they line up facing in opposite directions and press their anterior region together. They secrete a large amount of mucus and produce what are known as a ‘slime tubes’ (each worm will have one) – this is actually what eventually slides off the worm and becomes the ‘shell’ of the cocoon. The clitellum (the thickened band on the anterior region of the worm) produces a compound that causes the slime tube to harden.

The actual copulation process involves the exchange of sperm between worms. Remember, earthworms are ‘hermaphroditic’ – meaning they have both female and male reproductive organs. Nevertheless most species still reproduce via cross-fertilization.

Once mating is complete, worms will continue to produce cocoons as long as their sperm supply (donated by another worm) lasts.

You can actually see a couple of cocoons in the material near the worms (although these were likely produced at a different time).

Hopefully in the next couple months this bin will really start to gain momentum – I am eager to add the next tray, but definitely need a reasonable population of Red Worms in the first tray before the materials will start getting converted to vermicompost at a decent rate. I have a sneaking suspicion that this bin will produce much better vermicompost than the material produced in my sealed Rubbermaid bins due to the greatly increased aeration, but we shall see!

Anyway, I will be sure to keep you posted!

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    • Jennifer
    • April 11, 2008

    Bow chicka bow bow!

  1. Bentley,
    It sounds like you should just get in the habit of having the camera with you when you work with the worm bins. I should talk though, I need to do the same thing. Seems like I’m digging through the bin and see something interesting, but know it will change until I go find the camera and get back. And I also want to be careful not to get worm castings or other dirt on the camera.


    • katie
    • March 24, 2009

    wow i wish i could see my worms do that

    • Terri
    • April 18, 2010

    I’ve only had worms for a week and I just caught a pair of them mating! I hope I didn’t disturb them to the point where it didn’t “take.”

    • Clayton
    • August 11, 2010

    When do they start mateing once i start my red worm bean

    • Amina Bomzan
    • September 9, 2013

    i started with a handful of worms an dit’s now been about 2 months. There are hundreds n hundreds of small white eggs, how do i seperate the eggs from the vermi compost?? I do not want to loose nor destroy those eggs. thanks for any tips.

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