FAQ

If you have a question, please e-mail it to us at enquiries@wormsdirect.co.uk and we will do our best to post the answer here.

Worm Composting

Q. How many worms do I need for my wormery?

A. It really depends on the size of the wormery, for most average sized domestic wormeries we would advise to start with .25kg, this is about 700 - 1000 mixed sized worm, some adult but many juveniles. If the wormery is a larger one for maybe 4 plus adults then .5kg would be advised.

Q. My worms have died - why?

A. There are several reasons why they may have died, the most common reason is because the conditions have become intolerable to the worms. If the compost looks black, sludgy and smells then it has become anaerobic, this is where there is no oxygen present (caused by compaction, wet conditions) and there is now the wrong type of bacteria present, this will give off nasty gasses causing the worms to give up or die off!
Sometimes worms will die off due to bad foodstuff being added, such as a lot of raw onion or citrus fruit skin, fermenting fruit or alcohol etc.

Q. Do worm bins smell?

A. If the worm bin is working properly and being looked after, there will be no smell, if it is neglected and becomes anaerobic or sour, it will start to smell.

Q. Do wormeries work through the winter?

A.The efficiency of worms is dependant on temperatures, therefore if the temperatures are low, say below 5 degC, then the worms will be very sluggish, the optimum temperatures are around 15 degC to 20 degC, if possible, it is advisable to move a wormery into warmer conditions such as a shed or garage when the weather is cold.

Q. Why do you have composting worms and bedding ? I have read you can make up your own bedding.

A. You can make up your own bedding but because it is fresh and new and does not contain the micro life that process your waste into worm food, the worms are not too happy about this and may well decide to migrate away from the bin looking for a ready made meal. The bedding supplied in the kits is the bedding that the worms are born and bred in, it contains all the micro life needed to inoculate the new food, hence the worms are much happier to settle, bit like moving your house with you but to a different area!

Q. I have used the bedding supplied by Worms Direct but some of the worms have still crawled, why?

A. Crawling can also start for other reasons, one of the main ones is a lack of air in the bin, this is particularly a problem with deep, plastic bins, even worse when they have a clamp on lid designed to stop them getting out!
Other things cause worms to crawl, weather conditions, particularly when wet and the pressure is low, vibration (you may not even feel it) adding too many worms to start the bin, unhealthy conditions developing in the bin, nasty things being added as food, these are the most common.

Q. Should I add worms to my ordinary compost bin?

A. Worms can be added to a compost bin but you may run into problems with them migrating this is because compost bins usually heat up, contain large amounts of uncomposted materials (potential worm food) and you are asking the worms to be happy and live in neat food! they really need a bedding area to escape to when the going gets tough, better to start a dedicated worm bin.

Q. What is worm composting?

A. Worm composting is a method of recycling organic waste into a valuable compost using a colony of worms living in a bedding material.

Q. What do worms eat?

A. Worms actually feed on the bugs, bacteria and fungus that grows on your organic waste as it decomposes.

Q. How deep does a home made worm bin need to be?

A. No more than about 2 feet, worms composting is based on surface area not depth.

Q. If you find a dead worm in a puddle has it drowned?

A. Usually not, worms can live in fresh water for a long time because they absorb their oxygen through the skin not lungs, if trapped in a puddle of water they have usually died from exposure to daylight.

Q. Are the big earthworms I find in the garden any good for composting ?

A. If they are the big worms with the flat tail (Lumbricus terrestris) are not good composting worms, they will quite happily live in or near your compost heap.

Q. What are Tiger worms?

A. Tiger worms are a composting worm, their proper name is Eisenia foetida (if you live in the UK) or Eisenia fetida (if you live in the rest of the world!) they are also known as Brandlings and Red Wigglers amongst others.

Q. My compost bin is not heating up, should I move it into the sun?

A. No, the bin does not heat up because of the sun, the heat is produced by the action of bugs, bacteria and fungi decomposing the waste, they need to have a good supply of air to work, if your compost is compacted, give it a good stir, if its wet add in some shredded paper and/or cardboard, this should kick start it into working.

Q. Which composting bin should I use, one open to the ground or one with a bottom to it?

A. It really depends where you are going to site it, if its on soil then go for the open bottom, this will allow local worms to go in and improve the composting but stand it on a piece of mesh to keep out any inquisitive rodents! If you are siting it on a patio or something where it can spoil then use the enclosed bottom type.

Fishing

Q. Dendrobaena are stripey, are they the same as Brandlings?

A. No, they are related but are not the same.

Q. Are Dendrobaena wild caught?

A. No, all our Dendrobaena are farmed worms.

Q. Can you offer some advice on keeping 150 Dendrobaena for fishing, box size, materials etc.

A. To keep 150 Dendrobaena for fishing you will need a container about 12” x 12” x 12” or bigger, plastic or wood with a tight fitting but ventilated lid, into this you will need to add about 8 “ of bedding material, this can be damp peat (NOT potting or seeding compost) add some damp shredded paper or cardboard, composted leaves, moss if you have any. When the worms have settled, feed them about a cupful of cooked vegetable (preferably going to waste!) not salted, a lot of people use mashed potato’s, not onion or leeks, when this has almost gone, feed again, keep damp and in a cool place with the lid on at all times.

Q. What are Dendrobaena?

A. They are a worm that usually lives in the top few inches of soil where there is a lot of organic matter such as forest floors, giving them another name of Forest Worm

Q. Why are Dendrobaena so popular?

A. They are popular because they are excellent for all types of fishing, they are a tough worm and easy to keep and fish love them!

Q. I have heard of European nightcrawlers what are they?

A. European nightcrawlers are Dendrobaena.

Q. Can you breed Lob worms in captivity?

A. Generally no, some specialists have achieved this but as it is not commercially viable it has not developed into a business.

Q. If Lobworms cannot be bred in captivity and are therefore wild caught will this not cause a problem?

A. Worms Direct UK do not use worms that are wild caught in the UK as this would be detrimental to native stocks, our worms come from Canada where they are grown in a sustainable manner, they are actually "farmed"

Q. What is the best way to keep Lobworms.

A. Lobworms are ideally kept in a fridge running at about 8degC (warmer than a food fridge) if you have not got a fridge then the coldest floor is next best. In both cases, wet squeezed newspaper or cardboard and/or moss raked from the lawn should be added to the bag of Lobworms and kept topped up, the bag must be kept tightly closed at all times. The bag MUST be of a breathable type, a pillow case is ideal.

Q. Can Mealworms be used for fishing?

A. They can, they are very popular on the continent for fishing but not so much here in the UK

Fish, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians

Q. Which worms, other than Mealworms are best for feeding birds?

A. All birds love the Lobworms (Lumbricus terrestris) but they can be too big, sometimes we have small Lobs on offer, other than these, we find Dendrobaena (Eisenia hortensis) go down really well.

Q. What is the best worm to feed my African bullfrog?

A. Most of our customers use Lumbricus terrestris (commonly called Lobworm) because it is a big fat juicy worm

Q. Do Bearded Dragons eat worms?

A. They certainly do! they are an excellent food for Beardies, particularly growing juveniles as worms have a high protein content, do not feed exclusively as a varied and balanced diet is essential to good health. Medium Dendrobaena are the best.

Q. What are mealworms?

A. They are the larval stage of the flour beetle, this native creature lives wherever flour, grain etc is stored.

Q. Our local pet shop has closed and we require mealworms to feed our bearded dragon. Could you please let us know roughly how many mealworms we get per weight amount, and if we buy the largest amount, what do we feed them to make mealworms last longer?

A. There are about 3000 plus to the 100grms, to keep them long term, its best in a refrigerator running at about 10degC (a lot warmer than a food fridge) they will need feeding on bran and a source of moisture such as banana skin or sliced apple or any fresh green waste veg. If you haven’t got a fridge then a cold floor is the next best, this time of year they should start to keep longer as the temperatures drop, when its warm they start to hatch into the beetles.

Q. What are Waxworms?

A. These are the large grubs of the Waxmoth, disliked by beekeepers because the Waxmoth attacks the honeycomb in beehives (hence its name)

Q. Can the Waxworm hatch into moths and cause damage to beehives?

A. The Waxworms bought from Worms Direct have been kept in chilled conditions because of this, if they hatch they cannot fly and most creatures enjoy eating a furry moth!

Q. Should I feed mealworms to wild birds in the warm months of summer?

A. Yes, its very important to feed birds mealworms, particularly in hot, dry weather because live food can be extremely scarce.

Q. Can you feed maggots to wild birds?

A. Absolutely no problem, birds love maggots, don't buy dyed ones, they make a really good alternative or addition to Mealworms - cheaper too!

General

Q. What is the biggest earthworm?

A. We think the biggest is the Gippsland worm (Megascolides australis) its found in a small area in the Bass river valley, Victoria, Australia and depending what you read (and believe!) its size ranges from 3 feet to 12 feet. Like a lot of good things, its under threat.

Q. Do the worms you sell cause any problems if they get out into the wild?

A. No, all our worms are found wild in the UK.

Q. Can different species of worms be kept together?

A. Worms will not fight or eat each other! but the normal living conditions in the wild could be very different so this should be kept in mind if mixing them up.

Q. How do worms breed?

A. Worms are hermaphrodites, that is, they are both sexes, the fertilized eggs are collected by a ring of mucous on the outside of the body, as this slides off the tail end it closes forming a cocoon around the eggs that then go on to develop into baby worms.

Q. Is it true a worm cut in half grows into 2 worms?

A. No, generally a worm cut in half will die but if the damage is towards the tail end the tail bit will die off but the main body will repair itself.

Q. I see you sell whiteworm, what exactly are they?

A. Whiteworm are a tiny worm that lives naturally in the soil, they are not parasites, we grow them by the thousand and are sold as cultures, excellent for feeding small amphibs, fish, frogs etc.