Red Wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) are the most well known composting worm, not only because they are widely available, but also because they are the most effective worker. Calling a Red Wiggler a beneficial organism is an understatement, because in many ways they are the heart and soul of the decomposing operation. Having Red Wigglers in Living Soil containers and beds is not only recommended, but in our opinion, absolutely necessary for long-term success in nutrient cycling.
In the simplest of terms, a gardener can get a good indication of overall soil health based on the amount of worms present in the soil. This goes to show that red wigglers, being the most efficient, are not only a beneficial soil organism, they are an actual instrument to measure the quality of life in the soil.
Looking for somewhere to get Red Wigglers? Check out our friends at Country Roots Ltd!
Red wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) are generally smaller than a typical earthworm, and grow between 2 and 5 inches in length. They are a dark red color with light and dark colored bands towards its head and tail. They generally have a raised clitellum (or saddle) as opposed to other types of worms which are generally flush with the rest of the body (like an earthworm).
Red wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) exist in nature to help decompose organic matter as well as to enrich, stabilize and aerate soil. Their role in the soil food web is enormous and alot of other microorganisms not only rely on, but feed off of their bi-products.
Red Wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) have an enormous appetite and will eat roughly 25-35% of their body weight daily. They have small mouth parts which are able to grab microorganisms and detritus and retract it into their mouth. They secrete saliva and digestive enzymes as the food is passed through their gut and intestine. It is then either absorbed into the bloodstream to be used by the worm or passed out the anus as castings.
Those castings and enzymes provide food and nourishment to microbial life, as well as microorganisms like Springtails (Collembola), Oribatid Mites and Enchytraida (Pot Worms). It also provides nutrient rich, bio-available food to your plants.
Looking for a microbial inoculant developed for Living Soil? We carry Rhizocraft which is a bio-inoculation package containing a consortia of life including multiple species of trichoderma, endomicorrhizae and bacilius. Rhizocraft in conjunction with healthy soil bio-diversity is a true dream-team in diversity from the microbes to micro-organisms.
When the Red Wigglers move up and down through the rhizosphere, they create air channels for roots to get necessary oxygen and to allow other microorganisms to travel more easily. This further empowers organisms, like the Springtail, to be able to carry out their function of transporting Mycorrhizal spores around the root zone as they move and eat, as an example.
Further worms in general are responsible for improving soil structure through their burrowing and creating air channels which allow water to be drained from the surface, yet stored in the soil. Studies have shown that soils without earthworms present are 90% less effective at soaking up moisture.
Red Wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) are heavy eaters, consuming 25-35% of their body weight daily. This means they spend a good majority of their time eating and moving to find more food. They are able to move using their setae, or groups of bristles along their bodies, which move in and out and allow them to grip surfaces as they stretch and propel themselves forward as they contract their bodies.
Looking for a way to boost your worm and beneficial populations? We make and use Beneboost and highly recommend it!
While worms are not able to smell they are able to sense and react to chemicals using chemoreceptors which helps them to locate food. Red wigglers don't have eyes either, in fact they have receptor cells which are photo-sensitive and touch-sensitive. This allows the worms to detect vibrations and light to evade predators and over exposure to sun.
Earthworms, like Echytraidae (Pot Worms), are hermaphrodites so they have both reproductive organs. Although they are hermaphrodites, they still gather in clumps to reproduce because by joining clitellum and exchanging sperm with partners, they can more efficiently reproduce.
7 to 10 days later, the worm will form an egg capsule in the clitellum and pass it into the surrounding soil. The egg will hatch in 30 to 75 days depending on environmental conditions.
Each egg capsule produces 3 to 7 worms. This gives worms the ability to double/triple in size within 30-75 days making them extraordinarily regenerative.
Looking to Add More Bio-Diversity to Your Soil? Checkout our Living Soil Bio-Diversity packs which come loaded with Rove Beetles, Hypoapsis miles and other decomposing species to get your living soil bed kicked off right.
Read More About These Key Soil-Based Beneficial Insects
- Oribatid Mites (Oribatida)
- Rove Beetles (Dalotia coriaria)
- Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Hypoaspis miles)
- Springtails (Collembola)
- Red Wiggler Worms (Eisenia Fetida)
- Enchytraeidae (Pot Worms)