Worm Cocoon Hatching Experiment #1

Red Worm Cocoons

Today I spent some time collecting Red Worm cocoons (from some material I harvested from one of my outdoor beds) for my first worm cocoon hatching experiment. Last week I was wondering about the various factors that make cocoons hatch, and planned to start testing them out.

This first experiment is a bit of a combo deal. I want to see if cold temperatures can stimulate cocoon hatching, but I am also curious to see if the presence of some cantaloupe rinds will make a difference. Today I set up four small tubs filled with moistened egg carton cardboard. Each tub received 16 cocoons – two of them also received three small pieces of cantaloupe rind. Two of the tubs (one with cantaloupe, one without) went into the fridge, while the other two went into separate cupboards.

Worm Cocoon Hatching Experiment

The cocoons came from an aged horse manure bedding, so I rinsed them very well in tap water. If at all possible I don’t want there to be any chemical factors from the manure that might affect hatching rates. I will definitely test aged manure as a “food” in future hatching experiments, but for now I’d like to limit the affect it might have. I guess I shouldn’t worry about it too much though, since all the cocoons basically came from the exact same type of environment.

For this first experiment I think I’m going to limit the time in the fridge to 3 days since I first want to determine if short periods of cold can stimulate faster hatching. In future experiments I will vary the length of the “cold spell” to see if that has an impact as well.

As you can probably tell, there are LOADS of potential variables to play around with here, so I may end up conducting these experiments for quite some time! Hopefully we will see some interesting results, and learn a thing or two along the way!

Stay tuned!

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  1. Looking forward to the results.

    • Anna
    • May 18, 2010

    I’m also interested in the results of this one!

    Out of curiosity, how are you handling the variability in the age of the cocoons?

    • Michael
    • May 18, 2010

    Should be interesting

    • vermiman
    • May 19, 2010

    Age of cocoons may be estimated by their colouration.

    • steve from VA
    • May 19, 2010

    I love the 2 x 2 design. Do you have a thermometer to record fridge and room temperature? let me know if I can help with the data analyses.

    • Bentley
    • May 21, 2010

    ANNA – As vermiman pointed out, you can get some sense for the age of the cocoon based on the coloration. They tend to transition from a light straw color to a fairly dark brown. So, I generally tried to use ones that looked similar (mostly in the middle/end in terms of approx development). Also, given the number added to each bin, I’m hopeful that any variability in age among cocoons will be similar will be similar from one bin to the next.
    STEVE – I have one thermometer, but I decided not to worry about it for this first experiment. More of a trial run than anything. I appreciate you offer to crunch some numbers – I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, but i can tell you right now that data analysis isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, so volunteers are always welcome!

    • Steve K
    • May 23, 2010

    I’m always happy to help. Running the analyses isn’t the fun part, but I get geeked about pretty graphs. Plus, if you are going to go through all the effort of checking the tubs daily, I figure the least I can do is crunch the numbers for you.

    • Rayson
    • May 28, 2010

    Very interesting. My last batch that I harvested (few weeks ago) had an enormous amount of cocoons. I tossed a few back into the bin, a few in my flower beds and some on my lawn under a shady tree where the soil is always damp. I can’t wait to learn how best to multiply the breed! I just added some food the other day and saw there are a bunch of babies so the ones I tossed back into the bin have hatched.


    • Jerry King
    • July 12, 2012

    Like to know what you found out?

    • Bentley
    • July 12, 2012

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