White Worms (Pot Worms) In Worm Composting

“Hi there, I started up a worm farm about 3 months ago. It is doing very well, but has lots of tiny white worms in it. They even seem to be living in the fluid which comes from the bin. Are these worms bad for either the system or the garden? If so, how do I get rid of them?  I read one website saying to add garden lime, and another saying not to. I have added crushed egg shells but it doesn’t seem to have changed anything. Thanks,” ~ Pauline

Hi Pauline,

Those worms are almost certainly ‘White Worms’ – aka ‘Pot Worms’. They are members of the family Enchytraeidae, and are actually a small relative of the other ‘earthworms’ (including the composting species). They are often associated with development of acidic conditions – commonly brought about by over-feeding.

My first experience with them was back when I set up my very first worm bin. Not really knowing what I was doing, I added a BIG clump of white rice to my bin, assuming it would be consumed by the Red Worms. It ended up turning into an anaerobic mess (basically fermenting), and one of the side effects was a White Worm population explosion. They were EVERYWHERE (in the bin), and the rice itself was loaded with them.

White Worms are actually widely used as a fish food. Interestly enough, one of the suggested techniques for raising them involves soaking pieces of bread in milk and feeding it to them. You definitely don’t need to worry about the worms themselves harming your wigglers, but the conditions that brought about their population increase MAY be cause for concern.

I personally prefer not to add lime as a means of combating acidic conditions. Believe it or not, Red Worms actually prefer a somewhat acidic environment – much like that found in outdoor compost/refuse heaps.

By trying to counter-balance your acidic conditions, you will very likely shock the system, potentially causing more harm than good. Adding a little lime (or crushed egg shells etc) every now and again before problems arise is probably a better way to keep your bin buffered again serious pH swings.

In your particular case, I would personally recommend removing any excess food material in the bin and adding a lot of dry bedding to help wick up excess moisture – this should definitely help to at least get rid of all the White Worms on the lid and sides of your bin, and should get you on the right track in terms of reducing their population size down to a normal level.

Hope this helps!

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