Worms Congregating Together

Question from Lauren:

I have a worm bin 360, have had my worms active in it for almost 6 weeks. I added a bunch of old produce to it 2 days ago and today I went to look and a bunch of them have clumped up between the two top brown paper layers I have beneath the lid. Also, the food I put in is moldy. Do I need to remove the food? Are they overwhelmed and trying to get more air? Thank you!

Hi Lauren,

Based on the info you shared, I would definitely assume here that the worms are distressed. You need to be really careful about how much food you add at once in any sort of enclosed plastic bin system.

Too much waste – especially if no steps have been taken to optimize it for the worms (not sure if this is the case here) – can lead to the release of noxious gases such as ammonia (very toxic for worms) as well as anaerobic conditions, which can also be harmful.

My advice would be to remove most of the food, to mix in some more moistened bedding material, and to leave the lid off (with a light shining over top) for a while.

With open systems (eg. Worm Inns) you can definitely get away with “overfeeding” much more easily, since the air flow clears out harmful gases and augments the (aerobic composting) process in general.

Hope this helps!

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    • SegRider
    • July 6, 2015

    I have a 4’X4′ backyard bin in which I throw grass cuttings. Every 2 years I take off one side, tip it back and reposition it starting with the material from the top into the empty bin.This year I found about one foot of material partly decomposed and compressed into layers. Probably should have waited another year. The color is light brown, not like soil. I hope to use this material in my small bins, dampened and mixed with bedding. Could there be some reason to not do so?

    • SegRider
    • July 6, 2015

    I was embarrassed to find several worms between layers of damp paper when I realized they were having a full-fledged sex orgy. Next time I will knock

    • Bentley
    • July 9, 2015

    Hi SegRider,
    Old/composted grass clippings should work well, even in a smaller enclosed system (you definitely need to be really careful when doing this with fresh clippings).

    • Autumn
    • July 13, 2015

    Hi there!

    My Worm Factory 360 was started February 2, 2015. Despite being a beginner, so far, so good. (I’m sure I’ve made lots of mistakes, but the worms seem to be taking them in stride.)

    Three months ago, I put a thawed grapefruit that had been frozen for a month, in the factory’s top tray. After not touching the grapefruit for weeks, a few days ago I noticed that the worms had eaten out all of the pulp and under the skin was a HUGE pile of worms. This makes me nervous. There were worms other places, but I’m always scared when I see a big clump of worms congregating anywhere. Opposite the grapefruit is a pile of rabbit poop. There were two trays underneath the grapefruit/worm tray as well.

    An aside. Yesterday was my first harvest and I found several worms in the bottom tray. After spending two hours separating them by hand, (looking so hard to save the babies gave me a migraine), I gave up and tried to use the screen, but the compost was clumpy and nothing fell through. (And using the screen was really hard on the babies.) I’m using light now to try to separate them, but how do I remove all of the eggs from the clumpy compost that won’t go through the screen? Is clumpy compost a result of over-watering?

    Thanks for your help!

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