What's in your wormery?

In addition to your worms, it is quite likely that you will spot some other beings in your wormery from time to time.

So here are some of the contenders.

Enchytraeids (also known as pot worms) are very small white worms that are most commonly found in acid soils. Pot worms feed on bacteria, fungi, dead organic matter and small faeces. They are only able to digest part of the organic matter they ingest, but do make it available for other organisms. They are good for your compost system and harmless to you, your worms and your plants.

Rat tailed maggots are the larvae of a species of hover fly (Eristalis tenax). The part that looks like a tail is in fact a telescopic breathing tube that can be up to 35mm long. These maggots can be found in stagnant water that has a high organic content, but low in oxygen. The discovery of these maggots in your wormery is very rare, but a sign that it is definitely too wet.

Maggots are the larvae of a number of species of flies, including the common housefly. The flies are attracted to food, in particular meat, and lay their eggs directly on the food waste. The maggots form pupae and hatch into flies. The whole of this life-cycle, on average, takes up to 10 days in warm weather and up to a month in cold weather.

Fruit flies are attracted by fruit peel and rinds and lay their eggs on the surface of food waste, as per other species of flies.

With regard to flies, you need to keep your food waste covered up. All flies lay their eggs on the surface of the food waste, but will not burrow. Make sure that you keep your moisture mat in place at all times (or you can use clean newspaper) to restrict access. In addition, you will need to keep any kitchen collecting bin (if you have one) covered, otherwise it is likely that you will transfer fly eggs into your wormery.

To break the cycle you can cover the top of the food waste in your wormery with a thin layer of garden soil or clean newspaper and refrain from adding waste for 2-3 weeks.

Flies and pot worms prefer acidic conditions, so it is important to sprinkle a handful of the anti-acid lime mix over the surface of the food waste on a regular basis, for example, once a week. You are trying to achieve as neutral a pH level as possible so it is important to use equal quantities on a regular basis.


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