A little while ago one of our readers, Mario, sent me an email asking how he could get some Red Worm cocoons to hatch. I suggested adding them to some moistened bedding (shredded cardboard, newsprint etc), and then adding a small amount of food waste (I suggested an apple core, I believe). Well, as it turns out, Mario did indeed follow my advice and – long story short – ended up with lots of little wigglers in his mini bin.
This got me thinking…(uh oh! haha)
I’ve always been curious about the factors leading to the hatching of worm cocoons – specifically those of composting species, so the results of Mario’s little experiment have provided me with more than enough inspiration to finally start testing things out for myself (thanks, Mario!).
One thing I’ve noticed in my own systems is that periods of cold, and then warming seems to really increase hatching rates – a prime example of course would be in the spring time, when loads of baby worms start appearing in outdoor beds. I have also noticed this when bringing materials inside late in the fall (there seems to be an abundance of tiny worms in the material not too long after it warms up).
All of this kind of makes sense when you think about it. Red Worms tend to breed a lot as temperatures drop, so presumably the number of cocoons would be increasing at this time. In unprotected habitats, a fair number (if not all) of adults would likely die during the winter, so all these cocoons would be important in terms of the overall survival of the population.
Apart from temperature, I am also curious about moisture content and food/habitat. Will the worms hatch out more readily in cardboard or a mix of cardboard and food waste? If the results of my “50 Cocoon Challenge” (link will take you to listing of related posts) experiments are any indication, I have a sneaking suspicion that I know the answer to that one.
Thankfully, I happen to have access to loads of Red Worm cocoons at the moment, so I should be able to test out a LOT of different scenarios. If you have any ideas/suggestions, be sure to add a comment!
I will of course write about this again once I have my first test(s) up and running.