Know Your Worms! (includes ID Chart)

Worms are a highly diverse and invaluable species! Let’s take a closer look at what makes our wiggly friends so unique.

The term ‘compost worms’ refers to several species of epigeic earthworms (namely red worms Eisenia fetida, Eisenia andrei, and Eisenia veneta) that have been domesticated over the years to assist with controlled decomposition. Red worms are ideal worm bin residents. Their comfort in concentrated populations, their comparatively sedentary lifestyle, and their need to live in loose substrate rich in organic detritus allow compost worms to thrive in vermicomposting conditions. Compost worms self-regulate populations to accommodate space and resource availability. Perhaps most importantly, compost worms are voracious eaters that can process up to half their weight in organic material every day. That’s a lot of nutrient-dense castings!

Earthworms are ecosystem engineers that provide vital services in maintaining healthy soil, the foundation of a flourishing ecosystem. Different types of earthworms are adapted to accomplish this task in a variety of ways. One of the most important services worms provide is the addition, convection, and conversion of soil nutrients. Additionally, worms help to improve soil porosity and permeability, and support microorganism communities across many layers of soil strata. See the chart below for information on the three basic types of earthworms.

Worm ID Guide 2012


3 thoughts on “Know Your Worms! (includes ID Chart)

  1. I have a catch and release worm pit in my back yard and keep the earthworms that showed up in the pit fed with fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps. Is it a bad idea for someone to throw composting worms into a worm pit in their soil?

    • Hi Jim! It’s not a bad idea, but depends on what your end goal is. So I make sure I understand, are you saying that you have the common garden worm (nightcrawlers) in the pit? Or do you maintain a population of obtained composting worms?

      • I have the common garden nightcrawlers in my pit. I am just using the pit as another way to compost kitchen fruit waste and improve the soil in the yard.
        I don’t seem to have a problem attracting the nightcrawlers to the pit.

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