European Nightcrawlers as a compost worm

Written by Matthew on March 27th, 2010

Europeans are actually red worms by classification

I am often asked the practical difference between Euro’s and red wigglers when it come to composting. There are some differences between the Euro and the red wiggler, but the Euro is in-fact a decent compost worm as long as a few things are understood about it.

While the Euro is called a nightcrawler it is in-fact a red worm by scientific classification. The scientific name for the red wiggler is Eisenia fetida and the name for the Euro is Eiseia hortensis. We can see from this that they share a lot of characteristics in common and are very similar in there design.

Euros are a lot larger than red wigglers and take longer to reach maturity than red wigglers. This results in longer time before they begin to reproduce in the bin in large numbers. This also means that they take longer to bounce back if something happens to your worm bin. They consume similar quantities of food per amount of worm weight, but are more particular to proper carbon-nitrogen ratios. (That is essentially the ration of food to bedding.) One other important fact about euros is the fact that they are more prone to crawl from the bed when things are not exactly right. To overcome this just be more careful to keep everything in balance and having a light over the bin can be a real help in preventing crawl outs.

They are many things about the euro that make some prefer it over the red wiggler. One is that its physically larger size make it easier to harvest by hand and some fishermen prefer the bigger worm. The egg capsules are easier to spot which make it great for class room instruction and the worms larger size make it easier to study. They provably survive better in a garden soil with less organic material than the red wiggler but either worm needs a specially prepared garden with LOTS of organic matter to survive.

One great way to use the Euro is in a worm bed that has both types of worms in it. They do fine together and that way the advantages of each worm can bring benefits to the composting system.


12 Comments so far ↓

  1. Worm Farming says:

    A worm farm is a great activity to bring the family together. The kids can learn to recycle with their parents. Most kids will love getting their hands filthy and mom and dad will enjoy the help recycling. In addition, for school projects that the kids need, a worm farm is a great item which they can take to school and show.

  2. scott says:

    is the e hortensis epigeic,endogeic, or anecic?


  3. Matthew says:

    They are epigeic. This means that they live primarily on the surface and eat decaying plant and organic matter.

  4. John Duffy says:

    What temperature range do the Euros prefer?

  5. Matthew says:

    They like it slightly cooler than red wigglers. They can survive from just above freezing to around 90’s (substrate temperature in Fahrenheit), but breed best at about 65ish from what I can tell.

  6. joe jackson says:

    can worms eat pinapple

  7. Matthew says:

    no, its the only really big problem food I know of. It contains enzymes that will dissolve the worms. Dissolved = sad worm

  8. Adam says:

    I have fed pineapple to my worms with no problems. I’ve done this with and without bokashi composting it first. The worms eat it both ways and I haven’t noticed any die offs or anything. I did notice when I first got into worm farming (after a month or so) that I had some worms crawling out and others that appeared to be dissolving. I checked the PH and it was fine. I checked the temp and it was high (about 96F). I stopped overfeeding and the problem went away. I didn’t give them pineapple at that time. I do however add lots of crushed egg shells when adding acidic foods like pineapple though and that may neutralize whatever enzyme you are referring to. I’ve had no other issues and it’s been about a year. I know a year doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ve probably gotten 15-20 years of knowledge with all of the research that I’ve done.

  9. Captain Hook says:

    I fish 6-7 days a week during the season, always need worms. I built a submerged 4’X4′ worm box several years ago. Instead of praying someone will stop at a lemon-aide stand my 2 boys sell worms while our german shepherd stands guard all day long. I’m not kidding when I tell ya I borrow money from my pre-teens to go to the store. The joys of lake country.

  10. Matthew says:

    Captain Hook,
    Love the story. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Racoub says:

    Hi I m looking to create a worm farm in Morocco what kind of worm and how long it takes to start harvest the product(worms) thank you so much

  12. Matthew says:

    Racoub, I would recommend the African nightcrawler. You could start to harvest in as few as 4 months.

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