Worms don’t lay eggs, they produce cocoons which contain multiple fertilized eggs.
Earthworms are hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs. To mate worms align themselves head-to-head and exchange sperm from the clitellum (thickened glandular band at the anterior end of adult worms). After mating the clitellum produces a thick mucus ring which hardens and begins to form the cocoon. The worm’s own egg is then deposited into the forming cocoon as it begins its slide over the head. It then seals at both ends forming a small pearl-like cocoon.
Each worm will continue to produce cocoons (without needing to mate again) for as long as the donated sperm supply lasts.
In the case of Red Worms (Eisenia fetida), each cocoon typically produces 2 -20 baby worms, which under favorable conditions hatch out in 2-6 weeks. Temperature, moisture content, population and acidity of soil determine how long it takes for a cocoon to hatch. If poor conditions prevail, cocoons can remain in a dormant state for years.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged bait, burrow, cocoons, earthworker, earthworm, eisenia andrei, eisenia fetida, Loren Nancarrow, lumbricus rubellus, lumbricus terrestris, Mary Appelhof, nightcrawler, organic material, red tiger, red wigglers, redworms, reproduction, soil mixing, Solana Center, The Worm Book, vermicomposting, worm bins, worm habitat, worm retailers in san diego, worms eat my garbage on December 3, 2009 |
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“Earthworm” is the common name for over 2,500 species of Earthworm. But not all species are suitable for vermicomposting or the compost bin. Earthworker worms do not eat a large volume of organic material, do not reproduce well in confinement, and do not thrive when their burrow systems are disturbed. Vermicomposting worms on the other hand, reproduce quickly, eat large amounts of organic material, and tolerate disturbance.
Red wigglers are the most common type of vermicomposting worms. They are rust brown in color with striping between segments. Adults can grow to about 3 inches in length, they prefer temperatures between 59-77 degrees F, and cocoons hatch between 35 and 70 days. Red wigglers work well for vermicomposting because of their high reproductive rate, ability to survive in varying conditions, and because under perfect conditions, they can eat their body weight in food everyday. Red wigglers are not soil dwellers and will likely perish if added to a garden.
The tiger worm is a close relative of the red wiggler and shares very similar vermicomposting abilities. They are dark red or purple in color and can grow up to 3 inches long. They prefer temperatures between 64 and 72 degrees F and can process large volumes of organic material. They are often not separated from red wigglers by commercial growers.
This worm works well for vermicomposting and bait as well. It is said to be irresistible to fish. This worm is dark red to maroon in color with no striping between segments. They can grow up to 3 inches in length and prefer temperatures between 64 and 72 degrees F. Redworms cocoons hatch in 12 to 16 weeks. This worm can potentially do double duty as a vermicomposter and earthworker.
Nightcrawlers are not ideal worms for vermicomposting bins. Nightcrawlers are deep dwellers that can burrow up to 6 feet into the ground. Nightcrawlers do not like their burrows to be disturbed and prefer temperatures around 50 degrees F. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and prefer to eat leaf litter and mulch. Nightcrawlers are earthworkers, performing an important role in soil mixing, taking organic matter from the surface into deeper layers of the soil.
For more information on worms, please check out The Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow or Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof (available at the Solana Center). For a list of worm retailers in the San Diego area, please click here.
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Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged compost, eisenia fetida, extreme weather, Heat, red wigglers, red worms, shade tent, Solana Center, vermicomposting, worm bins, worms on April 22, 2009 |
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Don’t forget about your worms during this hot weather. The ideal temperature for your red wigglers is somewhere between 55 and 77 degrees Farenheit. Some sources note that worms can survive in temperatures ranging from 40 to 80 degrees but after 85 degrees, your worms are unlikely to make it.
During extreme weather make sure to add some extra moisture, keep your bin out of the sun, and, if necessary, move it to an indoor location. Building a small shade tent for your bin can also help a lot. If you live in a location that has extreme weather, you may consider building a more travel-friendly bin that you can move around easily.
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