The most popular composting worm is the red wiggler (binomial name: Eisenia fetida). Red wigglers are a type of composting worm that belongs to the epidemic, Latin for the “on the earth” family. They rarely live in the soil. They prefer to live in and around leaf litter, dung, rotting plants, and other organic waste.
Because Eisenia fetida is native to Europe, it is not regarded as an invasive species in North America because it has no adverse environmental impacts in the wild. Tiger worms, brandling worms, dung worms, panfish worms, and trout worms are some of the lesser-known names for red wigglers.
This species is strongly connected to the more evenly colored Eisenia Andrei and has vivid color with yellow banding. According to a study, the two can generate hybrid offspring, something that most worm species would deem unattainable.
Composting Worms Red Wigglers
The powerful red wiggler can be used as a bait worm for smaller fish or as a source of protein for chickens and reptiles. But, of course, vermicomposting is its primary application.
As previously said, they are the most prevalent composting worm on the planet. But why is that? There’s probably more than one cause for this. Rather, it is the most suited composting worm for most newbie vermicomposters due to a mix of affordability, resilience, and tolerance in a wide range of temperatures, etc.
Red Wigglers: Hardiness and Temperature Tolerance
Red wigglers are hardy composting worms that can withstand a broader temperature range than other worm species. The European Nightcrawler, for example, likes cooler weather in the high-60°F range. Warmer temperatures between 77°F and 86°F are preferred by African Nightcrawlers.
The red wiggler can reproduce and process organic waste at temperatures ranging from 55°F to 90°F and can endure both extremes. Its cocoons are also well-known for their resilience, being able to resist lengthy freezing temperatures while remaining healthy until they can hatch in warmer weather.
Red wigglers: Cost
Red wigglers are constantly less expensive than European nightcrawlers and substantially less expensive than African nightcrawlers due to their adaptation to varied conditions and ability to breed swiftly in them.
However, red wigglers aren’t cheap, and the rising demand for all things garden-related owing to the COVID epidemic in 2020 has pushed up costs for all composting worms.
You may anticipate paying at least $48 for one pound of red wigglers with delivery included in the continental US. As shipping two pounds is not much more costly than shipping one pound, buying 2 pounds frequently delivers the best bargain.
However, the amount you purchase should be determined by the size of your worm bin’s available surface area. 1 pound is enough for regular commercial worm bins, but 2 lbs will get your waste processing off to a better ability.
When purchasing 10 pounds or more in bulk, you can get it for less than $20 per pound. However, most US vendors are unable to fill significant orders as of this writing in late 2020.
Red wigglers: Moisture
Red wigglers don’t enjoy it any warmer or drier than every composting worm, and moisture in the worm bin is the most underappreciated component in worm bin success. The majority of worm bin owners overwater their bins. Furthermore, a well-kept worm bin should not produce leachate.
Your feedings may not appear to be adding enough water because so much water is bound up within the cells of fruit and vegetables, however, they are. Each feeding, you may add bedding to be safe. This avoids mucky, muddy vermicompost that is at best hard to harvest, and at worst a stinking, anaerobic disaster.
You should aim for a moisture level of around 70% for best results. Squeezing a handful as tight as you can is the easiest test for this. That handful should barely provide one drop of liquid at ideal moisture levels, which is around 70%.
Feeding Your Red Wigglers
Red wigglers don’t require a special diet like any other composting worm, but it’s important to remember that a well-kept worm bin will require frequent inputs of bedding as well as food waste.
Unlike bedding for reptiles, hamsters, and other animals, worm bedding will be devoured by the worms as it decomposes. Carbon-rich bedding is “slow food” in this regard, whereas food waste is “rapid food.” However, avoid meat or dairy-based products when picking quick foods for your red wigglers.