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"Wild" worms versus "purchased" worms

 
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First, I apologize to anyone who saw me outside today in the rain in my pajamas picking up worms and night crawlers from my driveway and from the road-way edge.

Second, is there a problem with putting those worms in with those I've purchased?

Third, I'm finding this to be quite fun.  DH and I are rapidly heading to being empty-nesters, and I'm finding lots of things in my pantry that I'll be able to feed my worms.  10 year old lasagna noodles?  Sure!  I'll soak 'em for a few hours and add them.  I'll take that 3 year old box of minute rice and add that at some point.  Amazon shipped a nice box to me!  Dinner bell will ring for my wrigglers.

I'm thinking of getting one of those cool metal signs like they put over the driveways at big ranches with the ranch name on them.

WORMDAROSA?  COMPOSTDAROSA?  THE WRIGGLY W RANCH?

Thanks to all who post here.  I'm learning so much, and am enjoying reading through all the threads.
 
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If you look closely at the worms in your compost you will notice that they are a different colour to the ones that are found on the surface of the ground after it has rained.

Compost worms are reddish and striped, the others are grey.

I do not know the correct names of the different types of worms, only that they inhabit different layers of the soil and fulfil different functions.

There is bound to be someone on this site that is more knowledgeable and can educate us😉
 
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There are different kinds of worms out there. I think they all compost, but they compost at different speeds and in different depths. I think alot of people try to go for the red wigglers because they break stuff down the quickest. They are wiggly and have a red color. They have bands, and a yellow butt. You can find them after it rains under old leaves or manure. They are more of a surface worm. Earthworms live deeper in the ground and break stuff down slower. I think you find them on side walks when it rains? (are nightcrawlers different than earthworms?)
I think it is best to have a variety of worms in a bin tbh, but that is just me.
 
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Welcome to permies, Kimzter....  Where we have opinions on worms!!
Personally, I prefer wild worms. They are there, they are free, they are acclimatized to the area, they are no work for me except to offer them food waste. That's my kind of helpers!


You definitely need a name for it! There's a badge bit for naming things! Not sure if it apllies only to place or to worm places... hmmmm....
I think Wormdarosa!  :D  

Might be this badge bit I'm thinking of, read up on it and see!
https://permies.com/wiki/101686/pep-community/Brand-location-PEP-BB-community
 
pollinator
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While you'll probably find both at an outdoor bin, their differences start with their names.  That is what they like.

Composting worms don't "dig" the dirt.  They like leaves, mulch and dead things and they multiply like crazy when food and space are abundant.  They eat, poop and propagate mostly on the surface or top couple inches.  Waste convertors.


Earth worms like dirt.  Nature's little excavators.  Mostly solitary excavators.  They take their food down into their burrows and leave the castings mostly underground.  Aerators.  That is about all I can say about that.

So, if you added them to your outdoor compost bin, probably no harm/no foul.
If you added them to your indoor, enclosed worm bin, then the free worms are probably missing their freedom.
 
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Kimzter Larson wrote:Second, is there a problem with putting those worms in with those I've purchased?



TL;DR: No, not really. At worst the introduced worms will up and die on you because they don’t like their new habitat.

Longform: This depends a bit on where in the world you are, what your soil is like already, etc. Here in Australia, we don’t really have native “compost” or “manure” worms. The species commonly used in worm farms - Eisinea fetida and another Eisenia that I’ve forgotten the full name of - are both introduced from Europe.

They’re adapted to live in the thick leaf litter layers that many forests produce, rather than the soil below it. That’s why the moist, rich environment of a worm farm suits them so well. Australian forests are quite different to the European models - we don’t get that kind of leaf litter. (OK, maybe in parts of the tropics - I’m from further south so I can’t comment on that reliably.)

Lumbricus terrestris, which many know as the nightcrawler, has also naturalised in many parts of the world. This one *is* an earthworm, but that means that they’re harder to grow in captivity. It can be done, but they’re more sensitive to their farm environment and have a habit of curling up their toes the minute they don’t like it. So they don’t tend to be used as much in commercial worm farms, unless that farm is optimised for bait production rather than compost. Lumbricus terrestris is bigger than Eisenia fetida, so it makes a better fishing worm.

Much of Australia’s climate (and, I imagine, that of many more places around the world) isn’t really suited to compost worms free-ranging in the soil. They die off pretty fast from lack of food and inadequate moisture. Even in a well-tended garden bed, it can be hard to keep them alive due to climatic extremes, unless you build them an in-ground worm tower that you treat like any other worm farm. So for us, digging up worms from the garden to add to the worm farm is more likely to be a waste of time than anything.
 
pollinator
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This question has been answered very well by previous commenters, but I just wanted to expand on a few things.

Those worms you pick up from your driveway and road edge would be perfect to add to your actual garden beds. They will do excellent work for you there, adding worm castings and aerating your soil in place. So yes, have fun picking them up from elsewhere and adding them to your garden. I would not add them to a worm bin, since they are "earth worms" and need soil, unlike the  "litter worms" you most likely purchased for your worm bin.

Also, your purchased worms will multiply very quickly, given a proper environment, so no need to add more worms anyway. I did an experiment a few months back, in which 10 Red Wigglers multiplied to become 120 Red Wigglers in just 8 weeks. In a separate bin, 10 Indian Blue Worms multiplied to become over 230 Indian Blue Worms in the same amount of time. And that was not counting cocoons or the tiniest babies that I missed. Most composting worms that you purchase will be a mix of Red Wigglers and Indian Blues, unless the seller specifies otherwise.
 
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A few years ago my grandkids and I picked up a couple dozen worms after a rain, from our driveway and put them in my compost pile.
By the end of summer I had hundreds of worms!
Moved since then, but new owner likes them.

I added a few hundred red wrigglers to garden last year and they were happy all summer.  But no sign of them this spring.

Heading into town today and think I will go to the sporting goods store and get a couple containers of fishing worms.  Not the same as red wrigglers, but can't go wrong with worms.
Probably going to buy more red wrigglers tho.
 
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