WORM FARMING PESTS

 Worm farming pests do get in on occasions, so I put together a small list that you may want to refer to from time to time. After reading this page it should come to no surprise. However, you will have questions when you see just what wormed its way into the bin causing vermiculture problems. They may be friend, they may be foe. So here's a list just so you'll know.

 Friends (the annoying ones)


 

Spider mites (Brown and white)

 It's not entirely uncommon to find some kind of mite in the bin. These creatures are also the Creator's clean up crew. Any time a bin becomes too acidic it can have an over population of mites, mainly the brown or white spider mite. These guys aren't necessarily a problem as much as they are a nuisance. In some cases they can bring balance to your system. When worms become sick or start dying, they will consume them but leave the healthy ones alone. However, if the mites become too populated, they may start to choke out the worms and the worms may look for new residence. There is a popular way among worm ranchers to get rid of these little pests. They seem to love cantaloupe and watermelon. Place the rinds  on top of the compost (after you have enjoyed the fruit of course). Leave it over night and the next day you will have mites covering the rind from top to bottom. Wash the mites off over the sink. Keep repeating the process until you are satisfied with the results. When you're done leave the rinds in for your worms to enjoy.
 

See a demonstration on removing mites 


 Fruit flies worm farmin Not a friend, neither an ally, just plane annoying. They stay in your house for what seems like weeks-on-end. I currently don't know of any silver bullet for this pest except time. Here is a common method for ending the cycle of nature.

 Solution: Fill a small bowl with apple cider vinegar, wrap it with plastic wrap and punch a couple of small holes in it in the middle about the size of a pencil. They will fly into the hole and eventually drown.

 They seem to be attracted to the acid in the vinegar. This is probably what attracted them to the bin in the first place. Remember to add the food in small layers to avoid rapid bacteria growth and pungent odor. A way to prevent their eggs from hatching can be to freeze your food or boil it before feeding it to the worms. Make sure to burry the food under at least 2 inches of bedding to eliminate any flies from getting in. This will also mask the smell from emanating from the bin.

 

Sow Bugs (pill bug) worm farming pests
 
Pay no attention to these guys. They're more friends than anything else. They break down the hard matter like wood and leaves. They're actually perfect for the bin. Now I'm not saying go grab a handful and throw them in, but rather just acknowledge their presence and thank them for the role they play within the cycle of nature.

Solution: If they populate too much then let them know that they've wore out their welcome by tossing them out one by one.

 

Springtails worm farming pests
 
These are in fact not a pest but help in the break down of organic material. They have an organ called a fercula (a tail-like appendage) that they hold against their body. when they need to go somewhere they release this organ that catapults them into the air thus being called the springtail. They are literally small enough to fit on the head of a pin. No need to even give these critters a second look.

Solution: N/A

Foes


Ants worm farming pests
 
Ants for the most part pose no threat to the worm bin environment. A few scouting ants here and there are not an issue but you know that scouts can bring a slew of others competing for the food. So, be on the lookout for scouts.

Solution: A preventive measure you can take on bins inside or out (especially the stackable ones) is to put the legs of the bin into bowls of water. This serves as a mote. Either the ants will drown or avoid the water altogether.
 

Red Mites worm farming pests
 
Farmer beware! These are parasites that latch onto the worm and suck the blood right out of it. It will also attach itself and suck fluid from the cocoons. Make no mistake. These are predatory creatures. I have not had experience with these blood suckers. I've only read about them.

Solution: So the only way to get rid of them that I've read is to *See instructions below.
 

Centipedes and millipedes worm farming pests
 
At first glance you may mistake these arthropods as a worm because of its long segmented brownish body. They mainly feed on decaying matter but are also known to feed on small insects, other arthropods, and yes, earthworms. I am not sure what makes these bugs feed on worms from time to time but...

Solution: If you see any, it's a good idea to pull them out. Be careful! Some can be poisonous but not detrimental to humans, just irritating. Watch out for those pincers!
 

Soldier Flies worm farming pests
 
They live in wetlands and enjoy composts and manures. I'm mainly talking about the maggots in general. They can grow in numbers if not taken care of. they do no harm to the worms and they are great composters. But again, its unneeded competition for food. If you only have a few you might want to wait it out, if not then...

Solution: You'll need to start from scratch. *see instructions below.
 

Other predators


Earth dwellers
worm farming pests
 
If you plan on having some type of setup outside then you better be prepared for double trouble. Other potential unwanted visitors may include moles and shrews. Moles live underground and burrow through the root systems of plants and grasses.

Solution: Be sure your worm habitat if directly on the ground has a bottom to it like wood, concrete, or metal screening. There's no better delicacy to a mole than worm delight. (Note: If you have some type of flooring make sure it has proper drainage so you don't flood your worms from too much leachate.)
 

Birds worm farming pests
 
INCOMING! INCOMING! That's right! We all know the early bird gets the worm and if they're on to you then you might as well fill your bird feeder with your worms instead.

Solution: The best plan of action is to have all four walls and a roof. Install some kind a chicken wire or put a cover over it. This also applies to those who have backyard chickens or free range (pastured) chickens clucking about.
 

Other Thoughts


 
Obviously the list could get quite long but these are some of the biggest threats posed to worms. Most of you will be operating on a small scale and indoors so you won't have to worry too much about unwanted guests. I know what you're thinking. Now you're getting scared about starting your own worm farm. Relax! It's much easier than you think. Once you get the hang of it, the system will practically take care of itself. Many of you will never have a problem, but I  just though it was appropriate for everyone to be aware of extraterrestrials lurking about.


Rebooting instructions
 *In the worst-case-scenario you have no success in managing your pest population then you'll have to start all over by pulling out all your worms, washing them over some type of screen mesh or colander (Guys don't tell the wife), rinse out the bin, and prepare it with fresh bedding.