Question from Judy:
I love my worm farm & really want to build something larger but I’m
having problems with mites. Can you please tell me how I can get rid
of mites without hurting my worms? Thanks!
I’ve written about this topic at various other times, but it’s something SO MANY vermicomposters (especially new ones) want to learn about that it’s never a bad idea to revisit every so often.
First and foremost, I always try hard to emphasize that: A) vermicomposting is a process that involves a diverse ecosystem of different organisms – it’s NOT just worms vs your food waste. It is important (in my humble opinion) to develop a certain level of respect for ALL organisms you encounter in your worm bins – which leads me to…B) if you focus more on the conditions that may be creating a favorable environment for certain critters rather than on the critters themselves (assuming they are “bad”, a “problem” etc), you are far more likely to successfully create an optimized vermicomposting system.
For example, if you add a large quantity of starchy materials all at once and you end up with sour/anaerobic conditions and a serious outbreak of pot worms, removing heaps and heaps of the pot worms isn’t going to solve your problem.
In the case of mites, they tend to thrive in wet (often low air-flow) conditions when lots of food waste is present. This often coincides with acidic conditions, but I’m not sure that it’s the low pH, specifically, that appeals to them (similar to the worms, I think they are pretty tolerant of a wide pH range). Unfortunately, these exact conditions are very common in a typical enclosed, plastic worm bin – especially when being managed by a new vermicomposter.
In my experience, you find FAR fewer mites in open (very well-aerated) vermicomposting systems – as well as systems that receive smaller quantities of well-optimized waste materials. So, you might (yuk, yuk) want to leave the lid off your bin for periods of time each day (assuming you don’t want to keep an entirely open system), reduce the amount of food waste you are adding, and spend more time preparing the wastes for optimal worm feeding (freeze, chop, blend, age, mix with “living materials” etc).
All that being said, if you DO actually want to get rid of mites in the meantime (before you create a more balanced system), you may want to refer to these other posts:
Hope this helps!