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Twice now since we began vermicomposting about nine months ago, we’ve had a mass worm escape. The first time it happened was only a few weeks after we started vermicomposting. I found myself frantically saying “Why are my worms escaping from my worm bin?!” I was baffled as to what causes worms to escape from a worm bin so I started doing some research.
Once I figured it out and fixed the issue, you would think it wouldn’t happen again. But oh no! Life got busy and it happened again a few months ago. Today I’m going to explain reasons why worms try escaping from a worm bin and what we did to stop our worms from escaping from the bin.
Causes for worms escaping from a worm bin
There are several things that could cause worms to escape their bin. If the conditions aren’t just right for them, they’re going to try to escape. It is instinctual for them just like any living creature. If they’re too hot, they’ll seek coolness. Hungry? They’ll seek out a new food source. Usually it will be just one of these things that is “off” and causing what I like to call “The Great Worm Escape”. Here are the main things that may cause your worms to escape from a worm bin:
- Too much acidity or food worms don’t like in the bin. Worms don’t like too much acidity so try not to feed them citrus fruits, onions, and garlic.
- Too wet. If the worm bin is too wet the worms will seek out dryer conditions. The bin should be damp, like a wet sponge, but not soaking wet. I always put a new layer of shredded newspaper on top of our bin every time I feed them each week. This layer can help soak up any extra moisture if the bin seems a bit too wet.
- Too dry. Worms need some moisture in their bin to thrive so if it is too dry they will try to escape to find moisture. I have a little spray bottle of water near the bin that I spritz down the top layer of newspaper in the bin if it seems too dry.
- Not enough food. Worms can eat up to half their weight in food per day so if there is not enough food in the bin, they will try to escape to find a food source.
Why our worms escaped from the bin
Curious what caused our worms to escape the worm bin both times? Not enough food in the bin! The first time it happened, we were still new to vermicomposting and figuring out just how often and how much we needed to feed them. I went outside to check the bin one morning and was shocked to see a massive pile of worms on the ground behind the bin! From then on, I made sure I fed them a large ziplock bag of food scraps once per week.
Now the second time it happened a few months ago, I took the lid off the big worm bin (we’re using a simple homemade worm bin made from one of these AND also have the Worm Factory 360) and was shocked to see hundreds of worms congregated along the top edge of the tub. The inch deep and three inch long handle groove on either side of the tub was packed full of worms. Yes you read that correctly, it was a giant blob of slimy worms packed in there!
This second “Great Worm Escape” was also caused by not enough food. I had been feeding them once per week and hadn’t had any issues with worm escapes. Then I realized as I was digging around in the bin that we had WAY more worms in there than what we started with. That’s a good thing since worms reproduce more quickly when conditions are good so our worm bin proved to be a good home for them. What I realized is that a once per week feeding isn’t nearly enough with this many worms. So I increased their feedings to twice per week and so far no more worm bin bail outs!
Have you ever had worms escape your vermicomposting bin? What caused your worm bail out? Any tips to share?