Help: Dealing with Pests
Pests are a natural occurrence in your worm bin. However, not all insects are made equal; while some are harmless, others can cause a bin to fail. With this, there are a few simple tips to prevent pests from taking over your worm bin.
Most pests aren’t harmful to your bin. In fact, most insects can help speed up the vermicomposting process. However, in large amounts, they can be not just annoying, but even deadly for the worms. The key then is in prevention—keep your bin just moist, moderate feeding, and make sure there’s always enough bedding.
If your bin already has pests, you can safely take these steps: 1) add more bedding, 2) If f it’s dry, wet it a bit more. If it’s wet, add dry bedding, and 3) stop feeding for a bit to discourage the pests from creating a colony out of your bin.
According to most sources, ants are alright to have in worm bins. Though ants may help in breaking down your worm bin’s contents, some species will prey on the worms. Other ants might not attack your nightcrawlers. However, in high amounts, they will compete with the worms for the same food source, which can kill the worms. Ants aren’t harmful in small amounts and are normal. However, they may be difficult to eliminate, especially when they create a colony out of your worm bin. To avoid these complications, prevention is key.
If your worm bin already has ants, try temporarily increasing the moisture of the bin to drive the ants away. Since your worm bin will be extra wet, do not feed your worm bins temporarily, and add some fresh, dry bedding to soak up the extra moisture. Also, watch out for winged queens—make sure to kill them as they are the only ones that can reproduce. Killing the queen would effectively wipe out an ant population. Lastly, try disturbing the contents of the bin, and the ants will eventually find a new place to settle in.
Mites are one of the most common and persistent insects to deal with. Mites like wet, acidic and almost anaerobic conditions. Although a small amount of mites is normal, a sudden influx of mites may point to a larger problem, such as overfeeding, overwatering, or a worm bin that is too acidic. It can sometimes be difficult to keep your bin mite-free. However, there are many ways to prevent them from colonizing your worm bin. First, make sure to keep moisture levels on the drier side by mixing in some dry newspaper or cardboard into the bedding. Next, stop feeding for about a week in order to discourage the mites from settling. Then, add more bedding to increase airflow. Lastly, check the pH of your bedding. If you see mutated looking worms, it’s probably due to an excess amount of food, or highly acidic conditions. Add crushed eggshells, crushed oyster shells or a small amount of agricultural lime to increase the pH.
Most worm owners would be surprised to find maggots or larvae in their worm bins. In fact, you probably have wondered where they’re from. However, don’t fret! Maggots are usually not harmful to your worm bin in manageable amounts. Still, it’s probably not particularly thrilling to see maggots among your worms.
The biggest source of maggots is your fruit and veggie scraps. Flies can lay eggs in your scraps, which hatch into larvae in your worm bin. With this, there are two simple solutions to prevent maggots in your worm bin.
First, make sure to cover your fruit scraps container with a net or cover to prevent flies from laying eggs.
Second, add some bedding on top of every feeding. This reduces smells and ensures you don’t attract flies to your worm bin.
Even by applying these two tips, you can never guarantee a 100% larvae-free worm bin. But these two tips alone can ensure their populations are at a minimum.
In the end, most pests aren’t so bad for your bin. As long as the insect populations are managed, these foreign insects can actually speed up the vermicomposting process.
With this, feel free to share your first experience with pests in the comments below. In addition, if you know someone who has dealt with pests in their worm bin before, feel free to share the post on social media below.