How to Keep Composting Worms from Leaving the Bin

Worm escape5 Easy steps to Prevent Your Worms from Escaping Their Worm Bin

One of the biggest fears of any beginning worm farmer is the fear of their worms leaving the bin all at once. Can you imagine coming home to a mass exodus of 50,000 red worms crawling all over your kitchen floor?!

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The reality is that there is a VERY slim chance of this ever happening. If you follow good worm composting practices it will never happen. This article will teach you how to keep composting worms from leaving the bin.


Why would composting worms leave a worm bin?

We know that composting worms need a dark, moderate temperature home filled with moist bedding. If they do not have this environment, they will die. Worms know this instinctually. The only reasons they would leave the bin is because conditions have gotten so bad inside that bin that they have no choice but to bail and look for a better spot. Your job as the worm farmer is to make sure conditions inside the bin stay preferable to conditions outside the bin. Here are the major reasons your worms would ever stray from their worm bin.

  1. Exploration of brand new worm composting bin. When you first add composting worms to a new worm bin, they will crawl all over the inside of the bin checking it out within the first couple days/nights. Usually they don’t leave the bin during this “settling in” stage but to make sure that they don’t, simply leave a light on in the room with the worms. Worms don’t like the light so they will be encouraged to burrow down in the worm bin bedding.
  2. Too much water, not enough air. Another reason worms may leave their cozy worm bin is if you allow it to get too wet inside. The worm bedding needs to be moist but NOT soupy or soggy. Too much water means the excess water fills up all the space in the bedding that is usually filled with air. This lack of air and crawl space for the composting worms is what could cause them to look for another home outside the worm bin. If your bin is too wet, add some drainage holes or some dry bedding to soak up the extra moisture. Read more on worm bin bedding moisture here

    Compost Thermometer

    Compost Thermometer

  3. Worm Bin is too hot. Composting worms will leave their bin if it gets extremely hot. Be sure your worm bin stays within the ideal temperature range by keeping it either indoors or in the shade outdoors. Read more on managing temperature in your worm bin here.
  4. Overfeeding. Be sure not to overfeed your worms with food scraps. Overfeeding can be a cause of a high temperature. A large worm composting bin can turn into a hot compost pile if you add too much food waste too quickly. Because of the high water content in vegetable food scraps (worm food), overfeeding can also cause your bin to be too wet. Read more on how to feed your worms here.

How to keep composting worms from leaving the bin

Follow these below steps and you will never have to worry about a worm escape again.

  1. Sufficient bedding. Make sure your composting worms have enough moist, carbon bedding. Ideally, your worm bin should be 3/4 full.
  2. Proper moisture content. Too much water and not enough air is one of the few reasons worms will leave their bin. Make sure you have the correct balance.
  3. Feed them but not too much. Only give your worms more food when they have eaten the last meal you fed them.
  4. Split your worm bin every year or so. If your worm bin seems overcrowded, consider splitting your worm bin two start another bin your could keep or give to a friend. I have not found worms to leave a bin because of over crowding but splitting the bin will help keep their population in check and will provide you (or a friend) with another worm bin!1280px-LED_holiday_lights
  5. Lights! Still worried about your worms leaving? Add some lights. We know worms don’t like light. If you are really worried about it (which you don’t need to be if you followed the above steps) you could leave a light on all the time in the room where you keep your worms. A strand of Christmas lights decorating the top of the bin works well. For the environments sake, use LED Christmas lights that don’t need a lot of electricity to run.

Is the fear of worms leaving the bin holding you back? Leave a comment below.

If you found this article on how to keep composting worms from leaving the bin helpful, please share it with a friend. Worm composting is more fun when you do it with friends.

 


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About Henry Owen

I have worked at summer camps, taught 2nd grade, and served as a mission and outreach director. Currently, I spend my time as a Daddy and Program Director for Friendship Gardens, a non profit organization growing fresh, healthy food for a meals-on-wheels program. I'm a husband, father, environmentalist, local food advocate, garden nerd, worm composter, and backyard chicken raiser. Follow me on twitter @rhenryowen
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