European Nightcrawlers’ New Home

Out with the Old, in with the New!

One of my European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis) bins got an upgrade this mornning (the one with the most worms in it). I’ve read that these worms prefer a little more space than their red wiggly cousins (ie. Eisenia fetida) and have been feeling a little guilty that I forced them to live in pretty well the smallest Rubbermaid tub on the earth! (although, they’ve done very well considering). As you can see in the picture above, the worms got a decent upgrade.
8)


Worm Bin Preparation - False Bottom

All of this actually started when I was out doing some shopping on the weekend prior to New Years. I came across a sale on Rubbermaid tubs at a department store and couldn’t resist picking one up. The bin is pretty well the ultimate tub for worm composting (better than any Rubbermaid I’ve encountered before). It has a nice large surface area, yet is not very deep.

Once I got the bin home I started prepping it for its future tenants. I first lined the bottom with shredded corrugated cardboard – this provides a ‘false bottom’ and helps to soak up excess moisture.


Fruit Salad, Anyone?

I then added lots of the mulched leaves/grass mix I made in the fall (by attaching a bag to my mulching lawn mower then running over some leaves) and a huge quantity of holiday food scraps (fruit/veg/coffee). I covered it up with one final layer of the mulch, added some water then closed it up and let it sit for about a week. Last night I opened it up and sprayed it down thoroughly, making sure there weren’t any dry spots left (it can be a little challenging to evenly moisten dried leaves/grass).


European Nightcrawler

When I dumped out the contents of the smaller bin I was very happy to see many fat (seemingly healthy) Euros living throughout the mass of material inside – always a good sign.

Some of them were as big as small dew worms (Canadian Nightcrawlers – Lumbricus terrestris), so I can certainly see how they would make a great fishing worm.

I was greeted with only a slight whiff of anaerobic digestion as I dumped out the small bin, and was pretty impressed that there seemed to be no water pooling in the bottom. My other small Euro bin (the double-decker ‘deluxe’ model) hasn’t leaked a single drop of liquid down into the reservoir either, so it certainly isn’t too wet in that bin either. In fact, it’s probably not a bad idea to start adding more water to that one since E. hortensis is thought to appreciate high moisture conditions a little more than Red Worms (who love it wet!) – I can’t really go wrong with the drainage holes in the bottom, so I might as well crank up the moisture levels.


European Nightcrawler Cocoons

I was also very happy to spot a lot more Euro cocoons as I broke up the material from the old bin. They are all very light in colour so it may be a little while before we see young worms (worm cocoons become quite dark just before the babies hatch out), but I’ll certainly be keeping close tabs on that development.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the new digs will inspire the worms to go a little ‘hog-wild’ in the reproduction department, since there is now plenty of room to spread out, and plenty of food available.


Monty Inspects the Euros' New Home

With one final inspection from Monty (our cat), the bin was ready to be closed up and left alone. One thing I forgot to mention (not indicated in any of the pictures above) is that I also drilled a bunch of holes in the lid and along the sides (near the top) to encourage air flow inside the bin. I haven’t bothered to do so with some of my previous small indoor worm bins, but since drilling them in my demo bins (used in the videos) I’ve become a convert. You are far less likely to stress out your worms if there is a decent air flow in and out of the bin – just make sure it’s not so well aerated that everything dries out!

Ok, that’s all for now. I’ll certainly provide more European Nightcrawler updates before too long.

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Comments

  1. That’s great news about the cocoons! With red worms I guess you get roughly 4-6 worms per cocoon, do you have any idea how many you will get out of these European Nightcrawler cocoons? Have you seen any young worms yet or only cocoons?

    Allen

    • Bentley
    • January 7, 2008

    Hi Allen!
    According to Dr. Clive Edwards (vermicomposting researcher), on average E. fetida (Red Worms) produce 3.3 live worms per cocoon, while E. hortensis only produces 1.1 (data presented in ‘Biology and Ecology of Earthworms’, 3rd edition). I’m hoping to see if this is the case or not (I’ll likely have to set up a separate experiment to see for sure). Others (namely worm farmers) suggest that European Nightcrawlers are more prolific in the breeding department.

    B.

    P.S. How is your ‘4 Worm experiment’ coming along? I’m hoping to give you a ‘shout out’ on the blog this week.

  2. Sounds like it could take them quite a while to fill up that new home then. I’ll be curious to see what your results might be on their reproduction.

    I was planning to check the ‘4 worm experiment’ this evening. It will be a week for the small tubs I setup and a little longer for the bucket. I’ll probably post something later this evening or tomorrow.

    Allen

    • Jeff
    • January 8, 2008

    Hi guys
    I have hatched an egg like Mark THE WORM GUY does in his video, and i have got 3 baby Euros out of 1 egg.
    if moisture and temp is right in the bin you will get more then 1 euro per egg.
    last winter my beds cooled off too much and took too long to hatch and there was only 1 worm per egg.
    I see the euros are not as dark as when you got them, the bedding here was a little used up when i harvested them..
    Jeff

    • Bentley
    • January 8, 2008

    Hey Jeff,
    Thanks for chiming in! I will be interested to see if I can witness some Euro babies hatching at some point. Perhaps I can start a separate hatching experiment.

    As for the colour of the Euros, it’s interesting that you think they are not as dark. The one pictured above actually seemed very dark to me (and was quite large as well), so I guess they have really lightened up since arriving here (most are definitely paler than that one).
    I imagine the food source plays a pretty important role in that department.

    B.

    • Stephen Sanford
    • February 24, 2008

    Hello how cold can the euro take in outside windrows I live in New York

    • Bentley
    • February 27, 2008

    Interesting question, Stephen! I only raise them indoors so I can’t say for sure. I suspect they have a similar tolerance as their red wiggler cousins (which are very tolerant of cold). I would definitely recommend insulating your windrows during winter months though. Add a nice deep layer of leaves or straw over the top and try to keep them sheltered from wind if at all possible.

    B

    • Jeff
    • March 3, 2008

    Hi Stephen

    Yes like Bentley said, euros are very cold tolerant.We would really need to know what type of soil you have in your area, In my area it is mostly clay and euros have a very hard time making their way down in the clay in fear of freezing,if you have a loam mixture,etc something the euro can dig down into, you could leave these worms in the windrows just fine, they are not going anywhere when the windrows are safe to return they will, and start prosessing the organic waste as before.
    In my working with both breeds of worms Reds and Euros the reds just stay near the top of the beds and freeze, The euros go down to get away from freezing

    Hope i answered your question somewhat
    Jeff The Friendly Worm Guy

    • Joe
    • April 30, 2008

    Hi guys,
    Last week I received 400 euros in the mail. I am having a problem keeping them in the bin when I put the lid on. I have ventilation holes on the bottom and sides. I do not have any problems when the lid is off and the lights are on.
    Has anyone had this problem?

    • Bentley
    • April 30, 2008

    Hi Joe,
    My Euros wanted to roam a little when they first arrived as well, but they eventually settled down – now I rarely see them at all!
    🙂

    • Joe
    • May 6, 2008

    Thanks for your help Bentley. I think they finally settled down. I made a new lid out of landscape paper, angle bracket and clamps. I don’t think there is anyway they can escape now. I also put some of them in a 5 gallon bucket with holes in the lid.

    Thanks Again,
    Joe

    • Brian
    • June 5, 2008

    My Euros are doing good and I have spotted many baby ones. I have had them now for about 2 months. What is the best temperature for the Eggs/Worms? I keep them in my basment where it is around 65 deg. but i can moove them to a warmer area if that is better. Best Temp?

    • RUSTY JONES
    • June 23, 2011

    I have been raising euro for about 3 months now,they seem to be doing great.My boxes are outside and the temp gets to around 86 degrees in the heat of day.I have seen a few babies already,so I guess something Is right.I was curious if anyone sells to any bait stores.I have had a few interested in buying to resell.

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