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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!

Written by Bentley on April 8th, 2008 with 6 comments.
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6 comments

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Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Jennifer
#1. April 11th, 2008, at 2:44 AM.

Bow chicka bow bow!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Allen
#2. April 14th, 2008, at 4:42 PM.

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.

Allen

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com katie
#3. March 24th, 2009, at 12:02 AM.

wow i wish i could see my worms do that

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Terri
#4. April 18th, 2010, at 2:21 AM.

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.”

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Clayton
#5. August 11th, 2010, at 2:50 AM.

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

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Amina Bomzan
#6. September 9th, 2013, at 1:03 PM.

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.
amina

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