My worms seem to be trying to escape!

by Jenny
(Cape Town, South Africa)

I have had a worm farm for about 6 weeks. I followed all the instructions on the box.

Quite a lot of the worms seem to be climbing up the side of the box as if they want to get out.
Is this normal?

Thank you,

Comments for My worms seem to be trying to escape!

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May 03, 2013
Worms Escaping out of the Bin
by: Pauly

Hey Jenny,

No, This is not typical for a worm system that's 6 weeks old.

However it does happen from time to time, especially with beginners. Many, including myself, fail the first time but succeed the next.

Hang in there and I'll try to go over a few points.

1) The number one cause of worms escaping is usually overfeeding. The bin can go anaerobic and sour (acidic) because there is too much food and the worms can't keep up with the amount.

for 1 pound of red wigglers only feed a couple of handfuls of food buried well beneath the bedding.

2) The bin can get too dry. It should always remain moist like that of a wrung out sponge. Keep a spray bottle handy and spritz it if it looks too dry.

In the same manner it can also get too wet from too much juicy food , not enough ventilation, or human intervention by adding extra water.

3) The bin can get too hot due to the food breaking down and heating up. This is popular with simple starches like corn and flour. Remove these items from the bin or put in just a little to the side and under the bedding.

When feeding you should always feed in one area of the bin so that the worms can get away to an area that is safe until conditions are right.

4) Not dark enough can also cause worms to stress and seek lower levels of the bin or escape.

5) Not aerated enough is another cause for worms to escape. Make sure there are plenty of cracks or holes or that the material/bedding isn't too wet. Too much water will suffocate your worms.

Final thoughts...

If all criteria are met above you may have unwanted pests either attacking the worms or they are just out populating the worms enough to make them feel unwanted.

Start over with new bedding and food and discard your old bedding. Rinse your bin out very well. You will also need a new batch of worms if you don't really have very many.

If you still have a lot of worms then save as many as you can but rinse them with an unchlorinated cool shower and strainer of some sort.

So sorry to hear this and hope all works out,

May 03, 2013
worm grower
by: Chuck

Hello, my name is Chuck, my bins are homemade. They stand 42" high, 4' long, 3' wide. I have a shower curtain underneath like a water trough, dirt on window screen upon 1/4" wire mesh.

when I put water in, the excess runs through, leaving a good moist soil. never too wet or dry.

May 04, 2013

I have my 5-tray worm farm set up in my bathroom. I simply leave the light on at night--the worms don't like the light.

You didn't mention the fruit flies which seem to accompany worm farms. I use shredded newspaper (dried leaves work well, too) on top of the cover.

The flies don't have the energy to fight their way through, and the number of flies is reduced by at least 90%

May 05, 2013
by: Anonymous

thanks so much for the feedback. I can see I have made some mistakes - too much food for one and too wet.
I have made some changes and its going better now.

There seem to be quite a few geckoes living in the worm and getting fatter rapidly. Are they suitable room mates for the worms?

Nov 09, 2017
Fruit Flies BTI
by: Bill

If you have fruit flies in your bin (our if you just want to avoid them) you can add BTI pellets over the bedding. They will prevent fruit fly reproduction just the same as mosquitoes.

Nov 09, 2017
good advice
by: Anonymous

Thank you Pauly and others for your advice. I seem to have made all the mistakes mentioned. Despite this, my worms are working hard and giving me lots of worm tea and multiplying.

But I will heed the advice.

So its never necessary to add some water?

Jan 04, 2018
When to Add Water to a Worm Bin
by: Pauly

Hello Anonymous,

There is a time to add water to a worm bin and a time not to.

If the bedding/material looks and feels wet, you should never add water to the worm bin.

However, there are times that the bin may get a little on the dry side (which is still okay), but if the bedding starts to feel dry, you're losing beneficial microbes.

It's important to keep the bin on the moist side rather than on the dry side. I know this is subjective, but remember, you're culturing microbes and NOT just worms.

Once the material (or worm castings) dry out, the microbes die.

Your worms will do a wonderful job with aerating and moving the material around. This helps keep the bedding moist (not wet) in many places.

Keeping a carbon blanket on top of the bedding such as wet newsprint or wet cardboard will insure the worms will work everything below that blanket.

You can use other kinds of blankets like carpet, burlap, plastic sheet (be careful that it still breathes), very thin plywood (like underlayment), etc.

I have a spray bottle of water lying around handy for when the worm bin looks/feels like it's getting dry.

A few quick spritzings to the top of the bed and everything is back to normal.

Hope this is enlightening to you :)

Jan 08, 2018
excellent advice
by: Jenny

Thanks to all the contributors. The various comments have been very helpful. My worms are no longer trying to escape.

Can you tell me how much to dilute the worm tea before putting it on the plants?

How long can worm tea be kept before using it?

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