Will a Red Worm Population Double in 3 Months?

One bizarre vermicomposting “fact” that has been floating around for years, and taken seriously by many newbie vermicomposters, is this idea of expecting your Red Worms to double in number in 3 months (or “90 Days”). It seems like a fairly reasonable claim on the surface – but if you really sit down and crunch the numbers you’ll realize pretty quickly just how utterly ridiculous it is!

For starters – even regardless of any fun calculations you can make (something we’ll do in a minute) – it’s hugely important to remember that Red Worm reproduction and growth are both HIGHLY dependent on a wide range of different factors. Some of the most important include 1) temperature, 2) moisture content, 3) population size, 4) food value and overall availability.

But just for fun, let’s crunch the numbers anyway!

For our little thought experiment, we are going to assume that we’re starting with
100 adult Red Worms

Some Other Important Assumptions

– Fairly close to “ideal” conditions – 25C / 77F temps – good moisture, ample nutrition etc
– 3 cocoons produced per adult worm per week*
– 3 juvenile worms hatching from each cocoon*
– 21 days incubation time until cocoons hatch*
– 42 days to maturity*
– 12 week period – with final tally being made at the END of these 12 weeks (still, technically a little less than 3 months)
– For sake of simplicity we are basically assuming that all cocoons are dropped at the end of each week – so each cohort will hatch/mature at the same time. This is obviously not how it would happen (cocoons would be laid throughout week) – so our final tallies are actually going to be lower than they should be.
– There are NO worm mortalities during the 12 weeks

*These figures are based on those shared at the end of this post: Crazy Q&A Podcasts โ€“ Session #13 (most closely resembling the figures calculated by professional worm farmer, George Mingin)

NOTE: What is listed under each week is what we’ll expect to be present at the beginning of that week


100 Adults


100 Adults
300 Cocoons (A)


100 Adults
300 Cocoons (A) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (B)


100 Adults
300 Cocoons (A) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (B) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (C)


100 Adults
900 Juveniles (A)
300 Cocoons (B) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (C) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (D)


100 Adults
900 Juveniles (A) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (B)
300 Cocoons (C) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (D) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (E)


100 Adults
900 Juveniles (A) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (B) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (C)
300 Cocoons (D) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (E) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (F)


100 Adults
900 Juveniles (A) – 21 days old
900 Juveniles (B) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (C) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (D)
300 Cocoons (E) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (F) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (G)


100 Adults
900 Juveniles (A) – 28 days old
900 Juveniles (B) – 21 days old
900 Juveniles (C) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (D) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (E)
300 Cocoons (F) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (G) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (H)


100 Adults
900 Juveniles (A) – 35 days old
900 Juveniles (B) – 28 days old
900 Juveniles (C) – 21 days old
900 Juveniles (D) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (E) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (F)
300 Cocoons (G) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (H) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (I)


100 (original) Adults
900 Adults (A)
900 Juveniles (B) – 35 days old
900 Juveniles (C) – 28 days old
900 Juveniles (D) – 21 days old
900 Juveniles (E) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (F) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (G)
300 Cocoons (H) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (I) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (J)


100 (original) Adults
900 Adults (A)
900 Adults (B)
900 Juveniles (C) – 35 days old
900 Juveniles (D) – 28 days old
900 Juveniles (E) – 21 days old
900 Juveniles (F) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (G) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (H)
300 Cocoons (I) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (J) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (K)
2700 Cocoons (A-1)

FINAL TALLY (END of WEEK 12 | Beginning of WEEK 13)

100 (original) Adults
900 Adults (A)
900 Adults (B)
900 Adults (C)
900 Juveniles (D) – 35 days old
900 Juveniles (E) – 28 days old
900 Juveniles (F) – 21 days old
900 Juveniles (G) – 14 days old
900 Juveniles (H) – 7 days old
900 Juveniles (I)
300 Cocoons (J) – 14 days old
300 Cocoons (K) – 7 days old
300 Cocoons (L)
2700 Cocoons (A-1) – 7 days old
2700 Cocoons (A-2)
2700 Cocoons (B-1)


2800 Adults
5400 Juveniles
9000 Cocoons


We’re looking at a potential 28-fold increase in the number of adults alone!

Of course, a typical worm bin probably won’t see growth rates like the ones shown above since people often start with a fairly large quantity of worms in a relatively small container. BUT, it really does give you some idea of what’s potentially possible if you give the worms plenty of space to spread out in, and just generally take good care of them!

Bottom-line – it’s safe to say that unless you are really messing up, you should definitely expect to see much more than “doubling” of your Red Worm population (especially if you are counting juveniles) within a few months!


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  1. Bentley, I have a problem, there is something growing in 2 of my bins [worm factory]. It looks like a little plant, green & purple teardrop buds w/a lot of lacy roots. It’s growing on the inside corners & underneath the bins, hanging down. Looks scarey & I’m wondering if it will hurt the worms. Have you any idea what it might be & should i worry about it ??? Thank you, Suzan

    • Ria
    • September 10, 2013

    Woot! I got gifted a bin some time in July and that bin seems to be producing VC at a crazy rate! I have since harvested twice and have removed worms to add to 2 other bins and 1 worm inn ๐Ÿ˜€ In fact, that original bin is out pacing my worm inn! Makes me wonder what I am doing wrong with that worm inn! LOL

    Thanks for this post. I was wondering if I was imagining the population explosion ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Karen
    • September 11, 2013

    Great experiment. I have my compost worms in an outside 3 metre garden that is just for them. I find that they still spread throughout the backyard gardens.

    • Betty Willoughby
    • September 11, 2013

    started with 3 pounds of worms put them in 3 greenhouses and now you cant move any dirt without finding lots and lots of worms. Not selling but giving them to friends for their gardens. Will I get to many for my crops? We make our own compost and the little creatures seem to love it. The greenhouses have auto watering system twice a day 10 min each. They love the wet.

    • Jes Anderson
    • October 24, 2013

    So, this is not the case for me.

    I started my bin in April. I killed most of my worms (it’s a learning curve), and I had two worms left. They are matured and now, in October, 6 months later, I have 8 mature worms and that’s it.

    What am I not doing?

    One plastic bin on my shaded porch. I freeze our kitchen waste and add it (once it’s de-thawed and room temp) with plenty of newspaper and cardboard bedding.
    I feed it once a week and I turn the bin… well with my hands.

    Also, since I have so few worms, I feel like I cant harvest the ‘dirt’ because it still has egg shells and newspaper shreds in it.

    How can I get it to a dirt state? (I don’t have a garden and need to be able to give this to people to use on theirs)

    THANKS in advance.

    • Jes Anderson
    • October 24, 2013

    That being said, it smells right, the food is disappearing, no signs of escaping worms. All signs lead to good.

  2. If each adult produces 9 juveniles per week, then once the population age distribution stabilizes, the doubling period will be 19 hours.

    The real question then is what limits growth? Food supply? Waste elimination? Disease? All of the above?

    • Wayne Kanold
    • January 7, 2014

    When worms die, is that not meat being added to compost pile? Are the dead worms a benefit to the compost?

    • kathy
    • January 29, 2014

    My home bin started with 2,000 worms 3 months ago and is healthy but I’d like it to break down more of our family-of-four food scraps. I tend to watch them closely and turn their bedding just to see how they are doing every other day…sometimes daily. Am I bothering them too much and disturbing cocoons? Any suggestions on how to get them to breed faster?

    • Jes Anderson
    • January 29, 2014


    I started with 5lb of worms in April and killed all but two of them (bc I wasnt adding bedding, woe is me). So I pressed on and got up to 8 worms over the course of 7-8 months. I fed every week and turn.


    I missed a week, so two weeks went by until I fed and turned again and there were a ton of new worms! So I started to feed/turn every two weeks and I have an innumerable amount of new baby worms that are maturing to big fatties!

    So to answer your question, YES! I think you are disturbing them. I wouldn’t check on them unless you re feeding them.

    I hope my experience is helpful to you.

    • idan
    • February 25, 2014


    my (short) experience has quite accurate numbers.

    30/8/2013 – started a 19L bin with only 12 worms (large juveniles, not adults).

    14/2/2014 – completed a larger FT bin, and moved them all to it.
    i screened the unfinished material by hand, and put the adults and large juveniles in a little plastic box. (i move the small juveniles with the vermicompost straight to the new bin)
    then, i counted the worm and reached to 427 worms. i assume that the number of the small, unlisted warms is pretty much the same….

    that’s give me a whopping 71 times increase(!) in half a year.

  3. I started composting only on March 20th 2014, I.e I took the first steps. I contacted our neighbourhood juice shop & asked him whether it is possible to pick all the food scraps from his shop in the night before he closes for the day. He said come at 9 pm & collect the whole bag, we dump it in the BBMP bin, (I live in Bangalore), at 9.30 pm if you come you can collect else we dump it. I said great! The next day (21.032014), we picked a carry bag which he had filled with diff types of scrap & juice filterate which was wholly Sapota, orange peels, a few peels of apple & may be some vegetable scrap. He had kept all in assorted bags, so thoughtful of him. (I had been preparing for this for the last couple of weeks–reading up on the stuff, watching stuff on YouTube etc).
    Suddenly, I was in a great hurry now. I immediately started off, –in the open yard–on the South side of my house I have a passage of about 2′ x 30′ & this is also the ideal place for vermicomposting as per Vastu as well. As I did not have the bins/trays etc & I did not want the scraps to rot I started off open cast. I spread out all the vegetable & fruit scraps on the ground which I sprinkled with water to moisten it.
    As I did not want to spend a great deal for this project I had been asking the neighbourhood shops if they had any spare trays, I checked olx & other websites etc. No go!
    On 22nd I picked a kilo of red worms from Vruddhi composters in Peenya for Rupees 600/- per KG. Wah! This was moving now, and fast! I was now the proud parent of about 2000 red wriggler worms. Of course, I could not see so many of them but that’s what the seller said.
    On 23rd I was fortunate to connect to a lady who had 25 trays too many (one of the vegetable shop keepers had referred one of his cx who had an excess of trays), & was looking for a buyer, to my luck the trays were perforated all around (see pictures & video on YouTube), I bought 6 of these from her at ? 150/- each. These bins were brand new 60 litre size, unused as yet & I was lucky that I got it from her. Now my vermicomposting project was really taking off. I spoke to the street sweeper who swooped a bagful of leaves for me. Now, I quickly gathered a few cardboard boxes from the neighbourhood shop, tore up newspapers & carton boxes, wetted all the stuff in a bucket of water & laid the bed of cardboard, torn bits of newspaper raddi, & made a neat bed for these lovely worms. I filled the tray to 60-75% with the dry leaves! sprinkled a little bit of sand! & mud all over & sprayed water on it with a small plastic pot with holes in it.
    Now, I started scooping up all the fruit & veg bits which you will remember were in the open cast pit till now. My happiness on seeing the worms still alive and kicking even though I had introduced them in the open pit earlier was great! It was great feeling, to realize that I had not harmed my babies.
    I repeated the same process with another bin too, and I was quite surprised that just one days fruit waste from a juice centre was going into two large trays. The fruit waste was about 3-5 kgs aprox. & the bins were like around 60 litres capacity. In a couple of hours I had completed all this. Of course I kept layering the browns & the greens, spraying water, adding fruit& veg waste etc regularly. By the end of these two hours I had scooped up all the stuff from my open yard compost area into my new compost bins.
    I cut up a suitably sized piece of banner material cloth–HDPE stuff & placed it at the bottom of another new tray which would be my collection tray for the compost tea. Now I placed this firmly on the ground, in my 2′ passage which is incidentally covered with plastic transparent, fibre sheets as a roof but still provides some light & sun light, but the suns intensity is greatly reduced. I now hoisted the other tray which was filled with all the fruit-veg-waste, leaves, worms & all on top of this collection tray. I Repeated this process with another set of trays as well. Now I Sprayed both sets with water one last again. The advantage of using this pre-perforated tray system is, that I am kind of sure my pretty worms will never wallow in an excess of water, nor suffer for want of sufficient ventilation because the trays are fully perforated all around. I now Covered the whole thing with a black cloth which was readily available at home. I covered this with a mosquito mesh screen which was from one of the windows to keep pests at bay.
    I have been watering & spraying regularly. Once in a while I can’t resist searching to make sure my worms are all fine. This morning I added one more tray because I scooped up another bag full of fresh yellow flowers which you will find all across Bangalore streets which are mostly tree lined avenues. Repeated the whole process of bedding, browns 60-70%, cardboard, paper, water, leaves etc all over again. The only difference is that I have filled the third tray with flowers which were strewn on the streets instead of fruit-veg strips.
    One more thing I forgot to mention earlier, I have also used a number of coir husk (outer ‘nar’ part of the coconut). I also used a scissor to cut the coconut dried leaf into smaller bits, which also went into all the three the tray.
    Great was my joy when I started digging & turning over the stuff in the previous 2 trays in search of a few worms, and found so many wriggly-quiggly fellows scurrying all around & trying to escape getting caught by me. I quickly gathered about 2-dozen of these worms & introduced them into the third tray which is mostly full of a variety of flowers, except for the bedding etc.
    I regularly collect the comp-tea & distribute them into all my pots & also garden plants. I make it a habit to water these trays first thing in the morning.
    All in all my vermi-composting project is going great for a first timer, even though I have been gardening for at least 40 years.
    I will keep you-all posted on my progress again shortly.

  4. Apologise for few grammatical errors as I am using an iPad!

    • hansie
    • June 12, 2014

    Hi just one thing i would like to know i have 800 red worms and 70 ordenary
    Fishing worms can i mix them

    • Bentley
    • June 14, 2014

    Hansie – I definitely wouldn’t recommend mixing most ordinary fishing worms with composting worms. For example, one of the most popular fishing worms – the Canadian Nightcrawler – is a deep burrowing, soil worm. It will NOT thrive in a worm composting system. Unless you know for sure what kind of worms you are dealing with, it’s best not to make any assumptions.

    • Cliff
    • July 23, 2014

    I am looking to buy earthworms for my planting beds…I wasn’t originally thinking of using them for composting.

    We live in Albuquerque, NM…now it’s in the 90’s but will cool down beginning next month.

    Any guidance on how many worms I should buy? Ie, x per square foot or some other calculation?


    • Bentley
    • July 24, 2014

    Cliff – you MIGHT do ok with something like Alabama Jumpers, since they are more of a soil worm (likely fairly tolerant of warm temps as well), but my usual recommendation is to create composting environments close to your gardens (or within them) and just stock them with composting worms. Vermicomposting trenches/pits and worm towers are two examples of systems that can work really well in association with gardens. As for the number of worms – I would definitely start small, and make sure you’ve mastered the process before going too crazy. A mistake people make is buying loads of worms (spending loads of money in the process) before they really know how to care for them properly. You can imagine what often happens in that case!

    • RRworms
    • July 27, 2014

    Hey all you farmers out their. We just acquired a place on a mountain in Northern Arizona. The Dewey area. In observing the local habitants with the large bins and the worms that we put around the trees when we moved and didn’t have a bin for our wiggly pets. We started noticing that the lizards and birds love the grubs. They don’t eat or dig the Red wrigglers. Each lizard seems to consume 3or 4 of those pesky grubs per meal. The long beaked birds really go for them also.
    I read how long it takes the worms to go from egg to adult. We have been here for 11 months. got a lot of babies. But, the adults seem to be alluding us. I mean, we can find some but not as many as there should be for this many months. I stuck on this one.
    Thank you for your comments.

    • eve scenters
    • July 27, 2014

    i would like to know what would be considered ample nutrition for 100 worms when i order them. i want to do it right.

    • Bentley
    • August 2, 2014

    RR – definitely MANY factors that can affect reproductive rate. Outdoor systems unfortunately are much more difficult to keep under control, so I’m not overly surprised by what you are encountering. Feel free to email me with more details and I’ll see if I can help:

    EVE – 100 worms will need very little in the way of food. Mix lots of moistened bedding (shredded cardboard or newsprint are great) with a handful of compostable food scraps and let it sit for at least a few days before adding the worms. The key with that many worms will be to avoid overfeeding!

    • Cliff
    • August 2, 2014

    Question: I have an outdoor composting bin…should it have a ‘floor’ on the bottom to prevent ‘escapes’ into the ground below or without a floor?


    • R & R Worms
    • November 8, 2014

    Hey Bentley I want to thank you for your answer the last time I wrote. It has been awhile. There’s a few things that I found out since the few months that I wrote last.
    I wrote that we have outside bins and couldn’t find our adults. FOUND THEM!!! We have the dry horse manure and dry yard debris pile just outside of the wood bin. They are huge and thriving there. So, we just count this as a bin. They don’t go beyond the pile. They seem to be perfectly happy. Another thing that we found out was to put decomposed granite around the bin. They stay clear of that stuff. Then again makes sense. Rock only breaks down so much. I need to make it clear at this time that the bins that I speak of now is to be used for the fishing side of this company. The use of pine needles is great bedding and food for the little red darlings. On the composting side? I believe that it is better to have them in a controlled environment for best results. But, back to the outside bins.
    I notice that we have a great many white worms with legs, I think they’re called grubs. Been actually thinking about making a bin just for them! Took a few fishing one day. When hooked they bleed a dark black excretion that seem to attract the fish. Didn’t hook anything, the fish went to school and learned. lol Didn’t take any of the grub home either. Now as far as the composting side of this grub. I noticed that they leave behind them pellets. Compared to the fine compost the wigglers leave. My question on this is…. Since they eat the same thing as the wigglers, is their compost good for sales?
    I’m kind of stuck with my business plan. I am at the point of obtaining investor for the farm to get up and running. But, the question of the day is…. Where do I get the stats on the potential for this business to show the investor that this is a lucrative business. I am also stuck as to what a good competitive price is. I wonder if you could also turn me on to a good packaging company. These are the things that are stopping me with the plan. Without knowing the latter forward the plan. Packaging of course must be included. Also, do you offer worm containers w/lids? I have checked out all over the net and only found one place so far that has containers specifically made for the packaging and sales of fishing worms, tea bags. Really would appreciate your help on this one.
    We are hoping to be in full operation by the first of the year. This intels a few buildings with control climate, 30 and above pounds of worms, and lots of clean dirt, coffee grounds, eggshells and such. Will let you know when this happens. Let me know if you can give me a deal on the worms.
    Thanks Bentley and all of you for your help before, now and in the future. Have a great holiday.
    R & R Worms

  5. Thanks for the break down Bentley. It really is crazy how fast these little buggers can multiply!

    • Scott Bryce
    • January 5, 2015

    I am coming into this WAY late, but I thought I would clarify something. Conventional wisdom on vermiculture says that, given the right conditions, the total boimass will double every three months. Since many of the new worms will be juveniles, to double the biomass, you need many more than double the worm count. Your numbers show that you can have many more than double the number of worms, but the total weight of the worms should be double what you started with.

    • Bentley
    • January 6, 2015

    Hey Scott – you raise a very interesting point.
    Although I’ve never see it written as “Red Worms will double in biomass in 90 days” (all versions I’ve ever seen either refer to numbers or simply a doubling of “population” which I guess could be interpreted either way), that’s still something that would be really interesting to test out! With my own “4 Worm Reproduction Experiment”, the vast majority of worms were indeed juveniles when I did my final count.

    • Frank DeMaio
    • January 27, 2015

    I have been composting leaves here in Michigan for many years. My yard yields around 30, 350 lb. loads of mulched leaves a year. They compost fairly quickly, so I am sure the worms are eating well.

    The problem is that I can’t find the worms, no matter if I dig in the leaves, under them or in the soil under them,(which is the casings of the worms, black and rich). Where are the worms?

  6. Hey i am from Jamaica and found these information to be very interested, my question is i would like to buy the worm eggs to be shipped to Jamaica, but would like to know how to incubate the eggs (it would be better to ship the eggs) and would appreciate if someone could give me some information.

    • Sayhan
    • April 7, 2015

    @Donald, ‘incubating worm eggs’ is actually nothing more than keeping them in their original vermicast and keeping the vermicast moist. They will hatch from themselves. Shipping them from a foreign country has its risks though. Radiation and wild tempratures are an example.

    • Shaun
    • July 19, 2015

    Hi interesting facts. I’ve only just started my worm farms just over 6 months ago. I first started with 1000 worms and had 5 100mm drainage pipes about 600mm long. I drilled many holes about 10mm all the way around and from bottom to top. I dug these into my new garden with the top sticking out and covered with a paving brick. I added about 200 worms to each and started adding our kitchen scraps. After six months I pulled them out and transferred them to my 120l worm farm bin. Only got about 2000 worms but I am sure there would be more still in the garden. About 6 weeks later my bin is full of worms. And the worms are back in the pipes in the garden. I have a second bin ready to start and will use the worms from the garden to start it off again soon. Any worms that go back into the garden with the compost will end up back in the worm farm from the pipes. A great hobby and good way to save money on fertilisers and mulch.

    • Mark Jordan
    • January 23, 2016

    My first attempt with red wrigglers about 15 months ago. I was doing good then I got alot of rain. I had 2 broccoli boxes with about 500 worms in both which i got about 50 kilo of casting out of. Then new bedding and kitchen scraps. Then alot of rain and very windy. My boxes flooded left with couple of worms and eggs. Which I kept over winter in garage. Started again spring time. I put a large pot of cow manure in the vegatable garden left it for about 6 to 7 weeks. Then went to use cow manure there was worms all through it. So I made a 25 gallon flow through bin. Also check on a few horse studs in my area found 2 horse studs with manure piles from cleaning out the stables. This is after checking on about 10 different horse stud farms. Some farms have there manure truck away every week in skip bins. Other farms to dry manure piles. Now I have about 4 to 5000 worms and 2ร— 25 gallon flow throughs and just build a 35 gallon flow through. Still using the large pot of cow manure which I just harvested about 40 pound of casting and about 200 eggs and 1000 worms I left a couple 100 worms in pot added new aged cow , horse manure and saw dust, straw . Where I think I will harvest early march. If I don’t have enough kitchen scraps I use horse and cow manure mix with straw , sawdust and composted leaves. I am trying to grow the worms in corner of backyard use to be compost pile for years a lot of garden worms. I will see if red wrigglers grow there as well in a 3′ by 2′ patch lot of manures and leaf litter away from vermicompost bins, only worry some direct sunlight. But should be ok. The Horse studs where I got my red wrigglers there was a lot of sun light. At times all my bins have had problems ants, one day last week I check on the worms with my hand turn over little bit hand and arm brown mites every where. To much moisture so I added dry straw and garden lime mix it in. Couple days later all ok. Temperature here in the 30’s alot.
    My question is what are bright yellow eggs about 5 to 6 mm . I know there not worm eggs. Red wrigglers are olive yellow turning brownish yellow before they hatch about 2 to 3mm

    • Shannon
    • April 7, 2016

    What happens when you have too many worms per bin? Also, any idea what is going on when you see a handful size clump of mature looking worms? Is this a worm turf war? Or lovemaking? I am also curious, so far I have heard that you should not release the Red Wiggler worms into the wild garden – is that true? Why?

    • Shannon
    • April 7, 2016

    Any ideas how to get rid of flies and other creep crawlers in my worm bin? I don’t want to bring it into my house like that

  7. To keep out these pests, flies, & creep crawlers, ants etc you can try sprinkling a little bit of turmeric powder, may be even Neem leaves, or Neem oil after mixing diluting with water & spray it. What ever you do don’t spray pesticides.

    • Carl lynch
    • August 17, 2017

    Should my wormery be verysoggy underneath. I have a catch bin for the tea waste.

    • Bentley
    • August 17, 2017

    Carl – ideally, worm bins should never be soggy since this slows down the process quite a lot. But if you have a way to drain off leachate regularly that should be ok.

    • Doug
    • September 24, 2017

    I really wanted a worm composter, so I built a three tiered box from wood. I read everything I could and it seemed that the biggest thing to worry about is overfeeding and getting the bedding too wet. Unfortunately, the fist batch I started I think I underfed and they tried to leave the box, I put them back in and they all died. I started again and made sure to feed a third of the weight a day in vegetable scraps. This still didn’t appear to be enough, worms were still running for the hills. I have been putting about three quarters of a pound of food in every other day for about the past two weeks. I starred with about a half a pound of worms around a month ago. Now they are cleaning up what I put in and the bedding is about like a wet sponge like it says it should be. I am worried that soon it will get too wet, is this common, it just seems they are eating more than everyone says they can, should I expect that this behavior slows and I will need to back off the feeding rate so that I do not overfeed and drown them?

    • Cathy
    • November 9, 2017

    Doug u would be amazed how much food a worm can eat. You will not over feed them and if your bin gets on the wet side just put four inch or so pieces of cardboard in it and it will help absorb the liquid and give them food. They love cardboard. I make slurries for my bins and put it on the cardboard. I don’t put whole food or cut up pieces in. I have five plastic bins with over 50 k worms. Takes a lot to feed them. They made me over 28 gallons of very fine beautiful castings in 1.5 yrs.

    • Bentley
    • January 12, 2018

    DOUG – There are various factors that can play a MAJOR role in food processing, and worm “happiness”. Based on the type of system you have described, there is definitely less of a worry about “overfeeding” (I will respond to Cathy’s comment directly in a minute) and the system getting “too wet”, but I don’t think “underfeeding” is necessarily what caused the problems. I would want to know: A) ambient temperatures, B) what sorts of food your were adding, C) what proportion of material added is bedding (vs food)?
    The good news about wooden systems, especially larger outdoor ones is that they can tend to be more forgiving.

    CATHY – Waste processing is highly dependent on a variety of factors. The type of system used can have a HUGE impact. The processing in a plastic tub vs a well aerated wooden bin can be night and day different. But yeah I totally agree about cardboard for balancing things out. In your case, it sounds like you have a good number of systems – and they are being well managed so you have likely hit the “sweet spot” in terms of processing speeds.

    • Gabi
    • March 7, 2018

    We got a handful of worms about a year ago, in a shoebox shaped bin about a year ago, in four months had to expand to another shoebox bin, and now I need a bigger one! The one thing that is nice about the shoe box size is the bin can be kept under the sink. I have a ton of worms, can’t even count them. All sizes.

    • Bentley
    • March 7, 2018

    Sounds like a “good problem” (for a worm-head), Gabi! haha ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Darren
    • May 13, 2018

    Like Bentley,

    I too like to experiment. I put two red wigglers in a 350 ml mason jar.

    Three months have passed and on recent checking I can count four worms up against the glass. It is possible I saw one more. If there are four visible worms, I am sure more live in the soil’s core. Today I noticed a fresh cocoon up against the glass (a lucky lay: being visible).

    I only feed them forest leaf litter and tea leaves. I also put shredded cardboard and egg shells in there as well.

    Anyway, my two worm population doubled in three months. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    • Darren
    • June 6, 2018

    Thanks Bentley for posting my observation,

    Sorry for the late update: I caught a swarm of bees just after posting and that keeps one busy.

    The day after I posted on your sight, I counted sixteen red worms in the mason jar, so after three months two worms populated into sixteen. However, fifteen days after the post there are so many worms up against the glass that I cannot even count them. There are vein-looking clumps of juvenile worms up against the glass and uncountable cocoons. Iโ€™m not really feeding them either: just tea bags.

    Something else, my seller called my worms โ€œTiger Worms,โ€ and when you look at them they appear to be orange and black striped. However, because I can see them up close, I can see they have been eating brown eggshells, so the worms are semi-transparent dark red and the brown eggshells appear to be orange, which gives them this tiger pattern. Pretty cool, eh!

    • Greg Dent
    • August 19, 2019

    Greetings! I ran across your 100 worm growth rate blog, and coincidentally I am conducting the same experiment with 100 worms. I am feeding them rabbit manure and spoiled hay and I amazed at the growth rate. 100 worms and 100 days later I have worms everywhere in a 25 cubic ft bin.

    • Greg
    • September 3, 2019

    In reference to your 100 worm reproduction blog: I happened upon it right after I purchased and placed 100 worms in an out door bin that holds roughly 54 cubic ft of material consisting of rabbit manure mixed with spoiled hay. You were right on with your estimates. While I havenโ€™t emptied the bin yet at week 16 the bin is full of worms , every where I look.

    • Jim McCarley
    • October 17, 2019

    I enjoyed the comments and the questions. I used to raise a lot of wigglers outside but now because of my health I am in an apartment. I set up a small tub worm bin so I still have a few pets.lol Thanks for your site.

    • mohamed
    • January 22, 2020

    i start with 20 worms a year ago and I did not reach to this number i am sure the is anther thing effect on the worm numbers

    • Bentley
    • January 24, 2020

    Hi Mohamed – there are a LOT of factors that affect worm population growth, especially if the worms are in an outdoor system.

    • Sue
    • May 14, 2020

    Hi Bentley,
    Just curious if “in breeding” happen to worm herds if you start with a low count initially.
    Do we need to buy/get worms from another source to refresh the gene pool?

    • Bryce Carswell
    • May 25, 2020

    I recently read an old study on worm population. It stated that worms react to stress by producing a load of cocoons, I guess to protect the species.
    Worms dont like soil for bedding. He used soil! Worms like damp conditions. He left the bin dry! He added an abundance of food to keep them healthy, and kept a light on near by.
    This kept them in the stressed out environment and they laid a looad of cocoons.
    He had a bunch of bins in different stages of maturity and regularly harvested his worms for fishermen
    It seems a bit like cruelty to animals, but Im sure it can still work in less stressful ways.

    • Bentley
    • May 28, 2020

    Hey Bryce – yes stress can lead to cocoon production, like you say, as a way to help ensure success of future generations. There are different kinds of stress – and not all of them would be linked to any sort of “cruelty” (eg if there is a light on the worms simply move down in the material). Not sure what you are referring to – but it sounds like Brian Paley’s article about raising 100 lb worth of worms in a room (not actually what the above blog post is about). If so, I agree that one of his approaches was pretty cruel and I don’t recommend it. His other approach was actually pretty ingenius (loading with bedding and lots of food early on then leaving them be) even if it WAS a bit of an accident on his part. Environmental response of the worms doesn’t always mean they are “stressed” – this is what they are adapted for, and it can be beneficial for worm farmers who are able to take advantage of it.

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