Red wiggler worm bins critters continued… Dealing with mites

Written by Matthew on November 15th, 2010

mites-and-a-springtail

Thanks to lord v on flickr for the use of this amazing photo! He has more click on the photo to look.

Mites are a common creature to be found in a worm bin. Mites, just like worms, help break down organic material into compost. Although mites in your worm bin may seem objectionable they are actually serving a purpose and are not altogether a bad thing. The big problem arises when the population of mites explode. This makes an unwelcome surprise for the worm bin owner when they open the worm farm and find them in large number even though just a few days earlier they were none there. The great news is that they can go away just as quick.

A population explosion of mites simply shows that there is an imbalance in the worm bin. Conditions that are favorable to mites are usually unfavorable to worms. Mites tend to live in conditions where there is too much available food and water in the bin. To get rid of the mites is usually simple a matter of reducing the amount of food and letting the worm bin dry out some. Another very good option is to add lots more bedding material on top of the worm bin without wetting it. After a few days the bedding can be wet a dab, but lean a little on the dry side until the mites are under control. Bedding contains carbon which binds to available protein as it breaks down. The worms can still digest it after this but mites cannot. This is a very simplified explanation of why bedding material is needed.

Another option is to bait the mites and remove them. Watermelon or cantaloupe or similar melon / fruit is place in the bin for a day or two. Many of the mites will go to it. It can then be removed and thrown away or the mites washed off and then use the remaining bit to bait the remaining mites.

 

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Sheri says:

    Very useful information. I will try this out. Thank you.

  2. Judy says:

    I wish I could tell you what these little white things look like but i do know they grow in number before your eye….or that is what appears to me. Today i took the dryed harvest stuff out and was going to but it on a new plant, I put water to the dry poop and guess what they were alive and well even after a winter in the garage. I throw the mixture away because I was afraid it would harm the plant. What is your thought? I am about ready to throw the
    worm house and worms away. Can you please help me?! I just took a magnafy glass and looked closed but they are so small you cant tell if they have legs….but they move and they are maybe the size of a small flea but all white. Anything moist they love. Please please help.

  3. Matthew says:

    They are just springtails. They are quite harmless.

  4. Lynn Smith says:

    My husband and I have started a Red Wiggler Composting business in March. We are having trouble with what we believe is Oribatid mites. They are round shiny and don’t move very much at all but do have legs. We have tried DE, ORMI approved soap and TriTek. Nothing seems to help. Oh we tried the melon. HELP please. We are freezing our castings but was wondering could they have come in my peat? We didn’t have them for several months now they exploded. Can you please help. Thank you, Lynn

  5. Matthew says:

    Can you tell me more about your setup? Would it be practical to change out all your bedding and clean everything?

  6. Matthew says:

    Oh and also I would suggest using some ground limestone.

Leave a Comment