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Worm Facts (FAQ)

 
 
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  • What is vermicomposting?
    Worms and microorganisms convert organic materials to a beneficial soil amendment commonly called Vermicompost

  • Can any type of earthworm be used for vermicomposting?
    No, soil and garden earthworms cannot be used for vermicomposting.

  • Aren’t all earthworms the same?
    No, there are over 4,000 species of earthworms.

  • What species of earthworm is used for vermicomposting?
    There are only half a dozen species that are used for vermicomposting. One species, Eisenia fetida, is used by most people throughout the world. Eisenia fetida is commonly called Red Wiggler.

  • Where do I find Eisenia fetida worms?
    In nature, Eisenia fetida is found in moist, organic-rich environments, such as cow patties or under logs in the woods. Since you won’t know for sure what type of earthworms you have found, you should buy Red Wigglers.

  • How many Red Wigglers do I need to start a worm bin?
    You should start with at least 1,000 earthworms. That number of earthworms will weigh about 250g.

  • Where do I buy Red Wigglers?
    Since you need at least 1,000 worms, buy Red Wigglers from an earthworm grower like African Worms. For only R250, you will be well on your way to contributing to a better Earth for all.

  • How much will they cost?
    250g (Approx. 1000 Earthworms) of Red Wigglers will cost R250. If you buy 1kg (Approx. 4000 Earthworms), we will give you a special discount and you will only pay R800.

  • How much can they eat in one day?
    Red Wigglers can consume up to 50% - 100% of their body weight per day, so if you have 1kg of earthworms, you could possibly feed them one 500g - 1kg of food per day. More than enough to re-cycle all the kitchen scraps of an average family of 4!

  • What will Red Wigglers eat?
    You can feed them most types of organic matter, for example:- all vegetables, all fruit (Except pineapple, paw paw seeds and not too much citrus), egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds etc. etc.

    For a complete listing of what worms can eat, click here.

    For a complete listing of what worms cannot eat, click here.

  • Do earthworms have eyes?
    No, instead they have receptor cells that are sensitive to light and touch. These cells allow earthworms to detect different intensities of light and to feel vibrations. They will move away from light, if they can. If earthworms are exposed to light for too long (about an hour), they will become paralyzed and die when their skin dries out.

  • Can earthworms smell?
    Instead of noses, earthworms have chemoreceptors in the anterior region that react to chemicals.

  • How do earthworms breathe?
    They do not have lungs; instead, they breathe through their skin. Their skin needs to stay moist to allow the passage of dissolved oxygen into their bloodstream. They coat their skin with mucus and need to live in a humid, moist environment.

  • How do earthworms move?
    They have groups of bristles (called setae) on each segment that move in and out to grip surfaces as the worms stretch and contract their muscles to push themselves forward or backward.

  • If I cut an earthworm in half, will it regenerate into two earthworms?
    No. The half with the earthworm’s head can grow a new tail if the cut is after the segments containing vital organs. But the other half of the earthworm cannot grow a new head (and all of the other organs needed to sustain the earthworm).

  • Which end is the head?
    The head is at the end closest to a swollen band encircling the earthworm. Although they can move forward and backward, they tend to move forward most often.

  • How do earthworms eat?
    They have tiny mouths and no teeth, so earthworms eat differently than you and I. An earthworm will push its pharynx (throat) out, grab microorganisms and little bits of organic matter, and pull them into its mouth. The food is coated with saliva, pushed down the esophagus into the crop and on to the gizzard, where it is crushed and ground apart. Next, it moves into the intestine, where food is broken down more by digestive enzymes. Some of the food is passed into the bloodstream for use by the earthworm and the rest passes out the anus as castings (worm poop).

  • What is the swollen band near the head called and what is it for?
    It is called a clitellum, and it contains eggs and sperm for reproduction.

  • How do earthworms reproduce?
    Earthworms are hermaphrodites, so each one has both female and male organs. They mate by joining their clitella and exchanging sperm. Each earthworm will form an egg capsule in its clitellum and pass it into the castings 7 to 10 days later. The egg capsule is golden-brown colored and looks like a tiny lemon the size of a match head. Two to seven Eisenia fetida babies will hatch from an egg capsule in 30 to 75 days.

  • What is the difference between vermiculture and vermicomposting?
    Vermiculture
    is the process of breeding worms. Growers usually pay for their worm feed, and the worm castings (manure) are often considered a waste product. Vermicomposting is the process of turning organic debris into worm castings. Operators use a wider variety of feedstocks and make money on tipping fees and sales of castings or vermicompost. The worm population usually remains stable.

  • Can you vermicompost in cold climates?
    Yes! However, to actively eat and reproduce, Eisenia fetida needs their bin environment to be between 15 and 25 degrees celcius.

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