Will NightCrawlers Multiply Like Red Wigglers?

“I was pulling weeds this week in my garden and came upon about two or three hundred night crawlers. Needless to say I started a new worm bin so I could keep them separated from my others. Will they multiply like red wigglers? Do I need to do anything special for this type of worm? Thanks for your help.” ~ Pam

Hi Pam,

This is a topic that has come up quite a few times in the newsletter, but since it ALSO seems to be one of the most significant hang-ups for newcomers it’s probably not a bad idea to revisit it once again.

Unfortunately, regular garden worms and nightcrawlers (those living in your soil and coming out when it rains) are not well suited for worm bins/beds. While most of them may survive for awhile  – especially when temps are relatively cool – you won’t likely see much in the way of reproduction (if at all).

Canadian Nightcrawlers for example require much more space and cooler temperatures than typical composting worms.

There are some soil worms that live closer to the surface, and in zones rich in organic matter which will be much better adapted for life in a worm bin, but you still won’t see them multiplying at rates even close to Red Wigglers.

My recommendation for those seeking to increase populations of soil worms is to add lots of organic matter (such as leaves, grass clippings, cardboard, perhaps even some manure) to a given plot of soil and keep the area moist. Over time you should start to see a lot more worms in the area.

It sounds like you already have a very worm-rich zone in your garden, Pam – so you are likely well on your way to having a really nice outdoor bed. I’d recommend putting the ones you collected back, and simply focusing on making the garden even more worm-friendly than it already is.

This will have the added advantage of also increasing the fertility of your soil!

Good luck!

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