Worm Cocoon Hatching-06-02-10

Red Worm Cocoon
If you look closely you can actually see at least one baby worm coiled up in this cocoon

As alluded to in other posts etc, I haven’t had all that much time lately for my usual RWC activities – such as blogging, newsletter writing, and tending to hair-brained experiments!

So yeah, the long and the short of it is that before doing so today, I hadn’t opened my worm cocoon hatching bins since May 22! Needless to say, that kinda throws off my planned daily observations! haha

What’s funny though, is the fact that – after making my observations today – I’ve realized my initial plans were a tad unrealistic AND unnecessary! There are definitely changes to report, but it doesn’t look as though I have missed all that much (an observation which in itself is pretty interesting/surprising).

Because it’s been about a week and a half since my last check on the bins, I decided to do a VERY thorough examination of the contents of each system. One at a time, I dumped each container into a big plastic bowl, and then carefully put everything (other than empty cocoons) back into the container. I literally left no cardboard shred unturned! haha

There were three main things I was watching for: 1) baby worms 2) empty cocoons and 3) full cocoons (unhatched), but I also kept my eyes open for anything else of significance. Here are the numbers thus far.

Cardboard – Room Temperature
Baby Worms – 7
Empty Cocoons – 3
Full Cocoons – 13

Cardboard – 3 Day Fridge Exposure
Baby Worms – 6
Empty Cocoons – 2
Full Cocoons – 14

Cardboard + Cantaloupe – Room Temperature
Baby Worms – 9
Empty Cocoons – 3
Full Cocoons – 13

Cardboard + Cantaloupe – 3 Day Fridge Exposure
Baby Worms – 7
Empty Cocoons – 3
Full Cocoons – 13

I was really surprised by the similarity between the treatments. I thought for sure that even if there wasn’t any significant treatment effect (way more worms hatching out in the cantaloupe treatments, for example), the results would still end up a bit more all over the place.

I wasn’t too surprised to see that worms in the cantaloupe treatments were bigger in general than the cardboard only treatments. It’s hard to say for sure if this is due to earlier hatching or better nutrition (or both) – and THIS is definitely the one question that makes me wish that I had at least done the occasional quick check on the systems to see where worms were hatching first.

Baby Red Worm
Baby Worm from a Cardboard-Only Treatment (magnified considerably)

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if any differences between treatments start to appear. I am also eager to try a similar set up with aged manure as a “food” to see if hatching occurs more quickly when it is present. While I certainly won’t be making daily observations for this experiment, I do want to check on the bins a bit more often than I have been – at least once or twice per week.

Stay tuned!

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    • Ted
    • June 2, 2010

    Not that you have the time to carry out this idea, but I am wondering if life would increase or decrease due to certain vitamins or lack of. Meaning, just cardboard, just cantaloupe, ect-ect. Maybe you can come up with a fountain of youth for our freinds to live longer. 🙂

    • Ted
    • June 2, 2010

    Back to school I go. I meant (friends)

    • Ted
    • June 2, 2010

    One more, sorry for taking up space. What do you use for those close up shots??????

  1. Bentley, Do you have a mad scientist lab coat? Somehow, I can picture you in your “lab” laughing “It’s Alive!! It’s Alive!!” when experimenting.
    My latest experiment involved similar neglect. I found that as long as they have something to eat (in my case, chicken mash and oatmeal) they truly do expand and contract the “herd” size depending on food supply. I left my bins unheated in the basement this year, not worrying about the temperature as I had the previous years and they did just fine at 50 degrees unfed all winter. So to those who worry about going on vacation or forgetting to check the critters every few days, not to worry, they seem to do just fine in any case.

    • John Duffy
    • June 3, 2010

    Have you considered the effects of the full moon on the results of the cocoon hatching time table? One could surmise that the lunar cycles may have an influence on the hatching cycles.
    Nonetheless, I really enjoy your website & your abstract way of thinking. Of all the “worm sites” I’ve checked-out, yours is by far, the most informative, creative, & inspirational…Keep up the good work!

    • Don
    • June 4, 2010

    Crystals. You should add these to fully protect and nourish your unborn wormies:

    Garnet pyrope
    In order to ease the metabolic changes

    Furthers the growth and the functions of the uterus and protects the unborn child

    P.s. for the comically challenged …. 😉

    • Barb V.
    • June 4, 2010

    Apparently some scientists HAVE looked at lunar pull in worm behavior.
    A google search on key words -‘Lunar influence on earthworms’ – got quite a few hits. Most look credible.

    • Tyson
    • June 4, 2010

    my bin is ready for harvest and what I want to know is what is the best way to remove the cocoons from the bin?
    thank you

    • Tracy M
    • June 5, 2010

    Not sure if this is relevant, but it IS exciting. I got my 2 lbs of redworms last thursday. I have tried every day not to bother them but I’m not very good at that. Last night, Friday, I noticed my first cocoon! It was way paler than I thought it would be but it was definitely a cocoon. If I hadn’t had so much self restraint, I probably would have caught it being laid. Also, it was stuck in some coir (I just reused some planting pots and sort of stretched them out a little). This made me wonder how to properly use this product. Any tips?

    • Bentley
    • June 10, 2010

    TED – It would be interesting to see how things like vitamins impact growth and development. So many things to test – so little time! lol
    As for picture taking – I use a pretty basic “point and shoot” camera on “macro” setting. Specifically, it is a Canon PowerShot SD880 IS Digital Elph
    AL – I should definitely get myself a lab coat! Good thinking!!
    JOHN – I have not considered lunar cycles. I think if I add anything else to the list of possibilities, I will go insane! LOL
    Thanks, as always, for the kudos
    DON – Thanks for the info. I’ll definitely…uhhh…keep it in mind! lol
    BARB – Thanks for your continued vermi-sleuthing!
    TYSON – You MIGHT be able to screen them out with a fine mesh screen, although you’ll likely end up with a fair amount of miscellaneous debris as well. Make sure the material is relatively dry, then start with 1/4″ and move to 1/8″ – see where the cocoons end up! Worse case scenario you can always pick them out by hand – one by one by one…by one
    TRACY – Congrats on the cocoon!
    As for coir – just moistened it up and mix with food scraps. I don’t personally like it as a worm bedding. Or rather, the worms don’t really seem to care for it in my experience. It is also pretty expensive.

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