Red Worm (Eisenia fetida/andrei) cocoon production has always been a topic of keen interest for me over the years – especially the potential influence that different materials/conditions can have on it.
I want to do a lot more experimentation relating to this in the months ahead, but for now I’ve decided to start a very quick-and-dirty, “just-for-fun-let’s-see-what-happens” trial with 3 different habitat/food mixes.
Yesterday, I set up 3 small plastic tubs – all of them have at least some aged horse manure in them. One of them only contains the manure, another also has a lot of wood chips (with leaves chipped in), and the third also has a lot of shredded cardboard. For the “other material” tubs, I simply added a scoop of aged manure in the bottom and a scoop of manure at the top (in the case of the shredded cardboard, I did mix it up with the manure a bit.
I feel that having at least some manure in all of them is important for overall nutrition, and – at least in the case of the cardboard treatment – also microbial inoculation. I seem to have a developing gnat and fruit fly situation in my basement at the moment (for some reason they always seem to crop up at this time of year – lol) so I want to steer clear of anything like kitchen scraps or even chick starter feed.
Once set up, the bins were moistened, and 4 mature Red Worms were added to each.
NOTE: As alluded to earlier, I realize this is completely “un-scientific”. I only have a single rep for each treatment – and of course, adding mature (potentially fertilized) worms will affect the results. Again – this is just for fun. I will let everything run for a while and assess, just for the sake of seeing if there are any really noticeable differences in cocoon abundance.
Should be fun to see what happens – and I will likely hatch (yuk yuk) some other cocoon project ideas in the meantime.
P.S. Here is an interesting paper relating to the effect of temperature on Red Worm reproduction: Influence of temperature on the reproduction of the earthworm Eisenia foetida (Oligochaeta)