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What Do Earthworms Eat

Earthworms are great for compost piles and for fishing bait but what do earthworms eat? Although many people know that adding earthworms to their soil can help the soil become rich with nutrients, knowing what earthworms actually prefer when it comes to their diets escapes a lot of people. So what do earthworms eat?

In just one single day, an earthworm can consume almost a third of their own body weight. Just two pounds of earthworms are also able to recycle one pound of organic waste in just 24 hours, which makes them ideally suited to compost piles. When the conditions are very good, an earthworm can even recycle their own weight in wastes every 24 hours.

What do earthworms eat? Earthworms eat a variety of things. They get most of their nutrition from organic matter that can be found in the soil. Some things that can provide nutrients to earthworms include fungi, rotifers, nematodes, bacteria, and protozoans. Although these things might not sound appetizing to humans, to an earthworm they are a wealth of vitamins and minerals and make a great meal. That’s not to say that they don’t like a good piece of fruit now and then, however. 

For the most part, the things that earthworms consume are typically things that humans do their best to avoid. Sewage sludge, cow manure, and food waste are all things that earthworms eat and seem to enjoy. Not only that, but sometimes the things that they eat aren’t even food items at all-like paper and cardboard.

If you are keeping an earthworm farm, then keeping their diet in consideration is important. There are some things that earthworms should not be fed, even though it appears as though they will eat just about anything. Things that can be harmful to earthworms are solvents, soaps, chemicals, foils, paint, metals, and plastics. Some of these things are toxic, even to an earthworm, and some are just plain dangerous.

Earthworms should also avoid citrus items such as limes, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons, as well as foods that are very spicy and high in acid content. Garlic cloves and onions are out as well, as are oleanders and other poisonous plants. If you aren’t sure what plants are considered poisonous then you should talk to someone who works at a nursery who can point you in the right direction.

Feeding earthworms is not too difficult. The mix that you give them should be soft and moist so that they can digest it easily. However, it shouldn’t exactly be wet and soggy. It should have the consistency of a muffin.

For the most part, the waste can be taken right from your table and placed into the worm bed without having to do anything special to it. You can mix it together if you want to, however.  Some things that they like that you might not think about adding to their pile are banana peels, coffee grounds, watermelon rinds, and chocolate cake. Hey, an earthworm enjoys a little dessert now and then, too!

Some people prefer blending the waste particles together using a blender. This is up to you. Although it will help speed up the recycling time, it really isn’t necessary. It is important, however, not to give the earthworms too much food or else they won’t be able to eat it all and this can cause problems on down the line. Generally, you want to keep the pile of food about 2 inches high. You don’t need to bury it, either, because the worms will definitely come up and look for it when they smell fresh food on the horizon.



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