Ticks in Your Worm Bin?

Here is an msg from Adam H:

I’ve been worm farming for quite awhile now. I know what spring tails
and the red mites look like. I have ticks in my rubbermaid worm bins
inside the house. We do have lots of ticks outdoors here in phoenix,
but I have no idea where these ones came from. The bedding I use is
coco coir, shredded paper, shredded cardboard, and my rock dust/oyster
shell flour mixture. I don’t use any manures or anything in my indoor
bins. I do have dogs that could and likely do bring them into the
house, which may be how they got to the bins. Is there an easy way to
get rid of them? I have food grade Diatomaceous Earth, but those bins
are way too moist to use that stuff on them. I have lots of worms in
the bins so I don’t want to bring them outside and cook them. Any
ideas???


Hi Adam,

Mites and ticks are very closely related and they look a great deal alike. I’d personally be very surprised if you ended up with any number of ticks in an indoor worm bin. Maybe in an outdoor bin if there happened to be lots of them in the area.

There are many different species of mites that can end up in a vermicomposting system – especially if the worms have had any association with manure. You mentioned never having used manures – but there is still a good chance that any worms you have purchased were raised on manures. It’s entirely possible that various other types of mites (maybe as eggs) could have ended up coming with the worms as a result.

I’ve been amazed by the array of shapes and sizes of mites I’ve found in aged manures – some of the larger ones definitely do look like ticks.

All that being said…

Assuming you DO have ticks, my guess is that you couldn’t have too many of them – it’s not as though a vermicomposting system is an ideal breeding habitat for them – so I’d simply recommend removing them as you see them. If we’re talking here about large numbers of critters that look like ticks, again I’m almost positive you are actually dealing with harmless mites.

I guess if you wanted to be absolutely certain you might (no pun intended – lol) be able to track down an acarologist – i.e. someone who studies mites and ticks – at a local university – someone who could potentially ID the ones you have.

As an experiment you might try putting a clump of dog hair in your worm bin (examine closely and make sure no ticks on it already) to see if it lures them at all. If so, this might offer you a way to concentrate and remove them without resorting to anything drastic.

Hope this helps!

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Comments

    • Adam
    • August 20, 2013

    Thanks Bentley. I purchased my worms over a year ago and haven’t seen these creatures in the bins until recently. They are much larger than the normal red mites that I sometimes get. They have triangulated bodies (small head areas) like ticks have. The worms were purchased originally from you guys. I found them mostly on the lids and sides of the bin and squished the ones I saw. They were very hard to smash and made a crack sound when successful. I left the lids off awhile because I was going to dry out the surface to use DE on them. I’ll keep you updated.

    • John W.
    • August 21, 2013

    I would assume ticks would not have anything to eat in a worm bed. Of course I don’t know what ticks actually eat. I assume its only blood…but we know about assumptions.

  1. This one made me itch! Lol! Possible it could be some form of beetle that hatched out. If you could get a picture it would do wonders.

  2. Forgot to mention. Google pseudoscorpion and see if that is what you have. I’d be willing to bet it is.

    • Adam
    • August 22, 2013

    Those psuedoscorpions look cool, but no that’s not them. I’m 99.9% sure they were ticks. I killed all that I saw on the lids and sides of the few bins they were in and kept the lids off of them. I haven’t noticed them anymore the last couple days. I’ll check again tomorrow.

    • Bentley
    • August 22, 2013

    Yeah – I was actually wondering the same thing about this potentially being some form of beetle. I’ve had some that resemble ticks.
    The number of legs would be a giveaway though – insects have 6 while mites and ticks have 8.

    I’m not so sure about pseudoscorpions as a possibility, though – in my experience, the little claws are pretty obvious.

    • Bentley
    • August 22, 2013

    Whoops – for some reason Adam’s second comment needed approval as well and I didn’t see it (and approve it) until after I left mine.

    • Lynn
    • August 22, 2013

    John – ticks eating blood only is correct. And, Bentley, tick larva have only six legs. Not all, but a lot of them. They don’t get eight till they have a blood meal. Blood is key to their development. Here’s a link to a resource that I use when training new hires where I work.

    http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/life_cycle_and_hosts.html

    It’s got some photos. They might help identify what they were, although they aren’t in a form you can enlarge for detail. I can’t think of anything in a worm bin to attract a tick. Talking about ticks doesn’t make me itch,exactly, but I have this weird speech problem of referring to my training classes as flick and tea class. (Flea and tick products and how to sell them)

    • Bentley
    • August 25, 2013

    Very interesting, Lynn – thanks for sharing that! I didn’t realize that young ticks (and perhaps mites as well) had 6 legs.

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