Over the past few years I’ve started noticing a smaller worm consistently showing up in my (mainly outdoor) vermicomposting systems.
It has always been relatively easy to spot, and tell apart from my Red Worms. Aside from the smaller size, it has a pale body coloration, with a pronounced, creamy-yellow clitellum (obvious in worms that would be too small to be mature Reds). It has usually seemed quite inactive, regularly exibiting a funny “frozen”, curved appearance.
I never reallty found a lot of them at once. All in all, it seemed clear to me that they weren’t nearly as prolific – nor did they demonstrate remotely as much composting potential – as the Red Worms, so I didn’t give them much thought.
Until early 2020, that is!
For some strange reason, they’ve been doing especially well in the “breathable bucket systems” I have going down in my basement – in some cases even seeming to thrive more than the Red Worms!
Speaking of Reds, here is a shot to give you some idea of how they compare in size, and coloration to our more typical composting companion. (The Red below was by no means a big specimen, just so you know)
Like the worms themselves, the cocoons of this species are also pretty easily distinguished from those of Red Worms. They tend to be a fair bit smaller, lighter in color, and to have more of a rounded shape (versus the tea drop or lemon shape of the Red Worm cocoons).
Looking through my copy of “Earthworms of the Great Lakes”, I came across a potential candidate – known as the “Small Litter Worm” (Dendrodrilus rubidus), but it is hard to say for sure.
I recently decided to set up some small culture bins just for these worms (will write about these in another post). I am really interested to see how they do in the absence of Reds.
– Will they process wastes the same way?
– How fast will they increase in number?
– How big can they grow with ample nutrition?
– Can they handle warmer temps? (My basement is fairly cool)
Just some of the KEY questions I have about these worms.
Should be interesting – and I will keep everyone posted on my progress!
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