There is one thing I need to get off my chest right away – I’m far from perfect when it comes to vermicomposting! Despite my best efforts (or due to laziness) I often run into some of the same issues as most people new to the hobby.
There I said it!
In a lot of ways I just don’t “sweat it” when it comes to a slightly out of balance bin. Worm composting is not meant to be “perfect” according to human standards – it is already a demonstration of the perfection of nature itself. If conditions in the bin change, the ecosystem inside typically changes in response. Sometimes this results in new populations of different critters.
A perfect example of a ‘critter’ that can make an appearance in your bin from time to time is the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). Not surprisingly, fruit flies and other flying ‘varmints’ tend to annoy worm bin owners more than most bin creatures because they easily escape when the bin is opened. Add to that the fact that fruit flies can easily survive the conditions outside the bin (an exception to one of the rules in this post), and it’s no wonder people are frustrated by their presence.
Well have no fear, there are some solutions!
One simple practice that tends to help a lot is making sure to maintain a thick layer of bedding material over top of the main composting zone. This alone will go a long way towards eliminating fruit fly infestations. Also, it will definitely help if you bury your food scraps rather than placing them on the surface.
If you seem to still have recurring fruit fly problems in your bin or around your house in general I would definitely recommend using fruit fly traps. These are very simple in principle – basically, they are made up of an enclosed reservoir of some tempting liquid (apple cider vinegar is ideal), with a downward funnel and small hole where the fruit fly can crawl through. Once inside, it is virtually impossible for the flies to escape.
Out of curiosity a number of years ago I purchased fruit fly traps (see above picture) and have been very happy with them. The vinegar inside will eventually evaporate away, but you can simply refresh the supply by pouring some in through the hole.
You don’t have to buy traps though. This morning I attempted to make one myself (pictured to the right) – while it certainly doesn’t look pretty, it is very easy to make your own using a cup and a piece of tin foil (perhaps an elastic as well). The advantage of the homemade design is that you can take off the funnel and periodically clean out the contents.
So there you have it! Fruit flies in your worm bin can certainly be annoying at times, but there are definitely ways to fight back!
Stay tuned for more posts in my “Pesky Worm Bin Varmints” series!