Storing Worm Cocoons

Hey folks – sorry it’s been such a quiet week! Busy busy! With the cold weather on it’s way, I’m trying to get my outdoor worm beds in good shape, and my indoor worm populations up. More on all that fairly soon.

Anyway…here is a question from Chris:

I do not raise worms as of yet. I do have compost piles and
as a result I have worms. I was screening some compost and I have a
lot of what I think is worm cocoons. What do I need to do to store the
cocoons if I would like to try and hatch them? I do not want to leave
them with the screened compost because I will be storing it until I
start seedlings for spring. Thanks. I am trying to learn how to raise
worms and your site has really helped.

Hi Chris,
If the objects you found are straw coloured, look like tiny lemons, and don’t try to crawl away when you hold them in your hand (haha) – there’s a good chance they are worm cocoons.

Storing cocoons is very easy – in fact it is a lot like storing compost. As long as you don’t let them dry out and you provide them with some oxygen they should be viable for quite some time. I’ve actually heard an account of earthworm cocoons being hatched after 30 years!

Getting your cocoons to hatch shouldn’t be hard either. I would concentrate a bunch of cocoons in a small, opaque container with air holes. Before you add them, simply fill the container with unfinished compost material from your compost piles. Make sure it is relatively moist, but not wet. You may also want to try adding a single apple core, or some other small amount of fruit waste. As this decomposes it may stimulate some of the cocoons to hatch and you should find young worms feeding on these materials before too long.

Hope this helps!

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    • Patricia
    • November 2, 2008

    Now I am totally confused. My cocoons look more like dark brown and are smaller than a piece of white uncooked rice. I have never seen a small lemon like straw colored thing. Any ideas? TIA Patricia

    • Bentley
    • November 2, 2008

    No need for total confusion, Patricia.
    I should have mentioned that cocoons DO darken as they get closer to hatching. When I say they are like ‘tiny lemons’, there is definitely emphasis on the word ‘tiny’ – the size you have mentioned is about right.

    One other possibility – perhaps you have a different species of worm.
    (probably not, but you never know)

    • Patricia
    • November 4, 2008

    Bentley, I would not be surprised at all if the above were true. I still have more worms than I thougth I would at this point. One thing I noticed today is that I have HUGE grub worms in my manure and aging manure bin. I should know this by now but are they as bad as they are ugly? I have been digging them out of the manure and throwing them to the hens and roosters. YUCK!!

    • Bentley
    • November 4, 2008

    Hi Patricia,
    ‘Huge grub worms’ are almost invariably soldier fly larvae. They would be excellent food for your birds!
    They may be ugly, but they are also effective composters.
    You can learn more here:

    • Patricia
    • November 4, 2008

    I did some on line research and I can’t tell the difference between the bsfl and grubs from June bugs which have a 3 yr cycle. I am getting alot of them and was trying to determine the difference so I would know how to treat the problem.

    • Patricia
    • November 4, 2008

    Bentley, after MORE research I definitely have grubs from June Bugs (beetle). So again, does anyone know if I should leave them in my compost bins or remove them before they cause damage or eat my worms? Sorry to change the direction of your post.

  1. Does anybody know if red worms and euro nightcrawlers survive in the same bin? Will they mate and what kind of worm do you get if they do?
    Thanks Howard

  2. How do you store cocoons once you find them. I have heard that they can be stored 3 months in refrigerator. You commented above that, “Storing cocoons is very easy – in fact it is a lot like storing compost. As long as you don’t let them dry out and you provide them with some oxygen they should be viable for quite some time.” What
    kindkind of containers, etc.

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