Disappearing Bait Shop “Red Wigglers”

Question from Judy:

Hi, I have set up a new worm bin in a 10 gal plastic tub with lid & holes. I used the coconut fiber with lots of shredded & cardboard. Added processed food, veggies, egg shells I looked in today & can only find one worm. I notice the bedding is dryer than was explained in your info. Could I have lost all of them so soon? I bought a small container from a local bait shop who said they were “red wrigglers” buy they didn’t appear small, red or wriggly.

Hi Judy,

You’ve highlighted one of the potential problems with buying worms from a source other than a reputable composting worm supplier. Unfortunately, you just never know what you are going to get. Bait shops almost always just use common names – and they are certainly not overly concerned with the exact classification of their worms.

Although, you would think they’d at least get the “small, red, and wiggly” part nailed down! lol

There may have also been some issues with your system set up. I’m not a huge fan of coir at the best of times – but when it is dry, it definitely won’t be an ideal bedding material.

My suggestion is to get everything well moistened (without excess pooling in the bottom – assuming bin doesn’t drain) and to order some proper Red Worms (from a composting worm supplier) – or maybe track someone down in your area who is vermicomposting and see if they will share (advantage there, apart from saving money, is that you’ll get some nice worm bin material that will help you inoculate your own system). The Vermicomposters Map may help with this.

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    • Bill Braun
    • February 13, 2015

    Buying worms that you know are red wrigglers is a real boon to getting started. I also went down the bait shop path. I think I ended up with some red wrigglers, but the bin did not really take off until I bought a box of the worms (which happened to be from Bentley, ). For me the advantage was knowing what I was receiving and being able to talk with the supplier (Bentley) as I got the bin started. Well worth it, in my opinion.

    • Larry
    • February 15, 2015

    I have the same set up that you have only my bin is 3 gallons. I bought my worms from a big box store. The worms are eating and mating and doing great. Mine do indeed look like red worms and were sold as such. Don’t get discouraged. Keep at it! By the way, I feed my worms Magic Word Food and they love it. Don’t tall anybody but I am not composting I just like breeding worms??

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