Mama's Worm Composting - What to expect when you buy worms for the first time, and how to deal with other bugs in your worm composting bin.
One benefit, or at least unexpected experience, of having a worm composting bin is the introduction of a variety of critters into your life. When I first started worm composting it never occurred to me that I might be dealing with more than just worms in my bin. The first time I saw a helper mite I was horrified, not understanding whether the critter would eat my new red babies alive or simply hang out. Of course, at the beginning of one's first worm composting project the simple process of food breaking down is completely disgusting and sort of horrifying, so the thought of other bugs being part of that process can sort of turn your brain to mush. Over time, however, dealing with a variety of bugs may still make me scream, but they are also good indicators about the health of my system.
Now don't freak out by this next little part; these are critters I see over 700 square feet of worms in a warehouse and may not represent your personal little worm bin at home.
Slugs, for example, are gross and trouble-causing as they can actually eat the small worms, but they indicate a healthy system for worms. White mites as well. Rolly polly bugs indicate a healthy, but overly dry, system. Maggots mean I've got some dead worms that are being feasted on by housefly larvae, a problem. Spiders are just inevitable. Mold usually occurs when the food source (usually fresh food) isn't buried appropriately; the worms don't go for it fast enough because it's on the surface and then it starts to mold. Fruit flies or fungus gnats, sadly, mean a healthy system (though I hate them with every fiber of my being and try to kill them at every opportunity). Ants mean the bedding is too dry.
All of these monstrous critters I've seen and squealed my surprise at over my worm farming ventures. So take a look at the article here, which shows images of a variety of worm bin critters, to familiarize yourself with the possibilities. That way when you someday see an innocent helper mite you won't freak out and dump the whole bin.
You know, all this time that I've been doing this now, I still yell and scream when I see a spider in the house. And guess who gets called on to kill it? My loving husband. I guess I'll never be TOTALLY desensitized.
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