Skip to content

Composting with Worms Guide - 5 Types to Consider⚓︎

The Five Species⚓︎

Red Wigglers - Eisenia Fetida⚓︎

  • Thin, dark red worms, usually slimmer and flatter than your common garden earthworm, and they tend to have yellow stripes banding around the body.
  • Reproduce quickly.
  • Tolerant of quite a wide temperature range (55-95°F).
  • They measure around 2-4 inches.
  • Also known as manure worm, tiger worm, redworm, brandling worm, troutfish worm, and panfish worm.

Redworms - Lumbricus Rubellus⚓︎

  • Tend to be a little flatter than earthworms, and have a distinctly reddish tint to them. They may have a somewhat yellow underside.
  • They are fairly temperature hardy, and will survive cold winters without a problem.
  • They generally measure between 1-4 inches.

European Nightcrawler - Eisenia Hortensis⚓︎

  • Prefer slightly cooler temperatures.
  • Slower reproduction, take about 20 weeks to reach sexual maturity.
  • Generally live a little deeper down in the compost bin.

African Nightcrawler - Eudrilus Eugeniae⚓︎

  • Can measure up to 12 inches when fully grown, and are thin.
  • Fast to reproduce, reaching sexual maturity in just 35 days in optimal conditions.
  • They don’t tolerate the cold making them unsuitable for outdoor composting in any cool environment, especially during the winter. They will die off at anything cooler than 60°F.

Indian Blue - Perionyx Excavatus⚓︎

  • May look similar to red wigglers.
  • Less common and harder to source.
  • Reproduce quickly.
  • They are smaller than the African Nightcrawler, but similar in color and iridescent in the light.
  • Most will survive a temperature drop for a few days, but sustained periods of time in temperatures below 70°F may kill them.
  • Known for relocating and escaping out of bins, especially if conditions are not ideal. Atmospheric pressure changes, like storms, can also cause them to try to relocate.
  • Not ideal for indoor bins due to their tendency to escaping.

Keeping Worms Happy⚓︎

Worm needs:

  • A moist, but not wet, environment. If you squeeze a handful of compost, you should get a few drops of water. Think of a wrung-out sponge.
  • If too much water comes out, you need to add dry ingredients; if no water comes out, it’s time to add some wet food scraps such as melon or cabbage.
  • Air circulation. They cannot be kept in an air tight container.
  • Food. Fruits and veggies. Avoid feeding citrus fruits and onion peelings. They may also struggle to deal with meat, dairy, or other fatty foods.
  • Carbon. Worms require carbon in addition to other foods; provide shredded paper or cardboard along food scraps.