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What's Bugging Your Worms? The Mystery of Worms Crawling Out of Your Compost Bin

Composting with worms, known as vermicomposting, is an incredible way to turn kitchen scraps and organic waste into nutrient-rich soil. However, if you've noticed your worms making a daring escape from their cozy compost bin, you might be left wondering, "Why are my worms crawling out?" Let's explore the possible reasons behind this peculiar behavior and discover solutions to keep your composting buddies happy and thriving.


Person holding compost and worms in a garden

Temperature

Worms are incredibly sensitive to temperature changes. If your compost bin becomes too hot or too cold, your worms will try to seek more suitable conditions. Ensure your bin is located in a shaded area away from extreme heat or cold drafts.


Moisture Levels

Worms require a moist environment to breathe through their skin. If the moisture levels in your compost bin become too high or too low, worms may crawl out in search of a more balanced habitat. Maintain proper moisture by regularly monitoring and adjusting the dampness of the compost bedding.


Unfavorable Composting Conditions

Worms prefer a slightly acidic environment with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. If the pH of your compost bin becomes too acidic or alkaline, worms may try to escape. Test the pH levels of your compost and make adjustments using materials like crushed eggshells (for acidity) or dolomite lime (for alkalinity).


Poor Aeration

Worms need oxygen to survive. Insufficient airflow within your compost bin can lead to reduced oxygen levels, forcing the worms to seek more oxygen-rich environments. Ensure proper aeration by fluffing up the bedding regularly and adding dry materials like shredded newspaper or dry leaves to promote airflow.


Inadequate Food Variety

Worms thrive on a diverse diet consisting of fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and crushed eggshells. If your compost bin lacks a varied menu, worms may crawl out in search of more appetizing options. Expand their menu by introducing a wider range of kitchen scraps.


Spoiled or Toxic Food

Worms have an impeccable sense of smell and can detect spoiled or toxic food quickly. Rotting food releases harmful gases and odors, prompting worms to leave the bin for their own safety. Only add fresh, non-toxic food waste to your compost bin to prevent this issue.


Girl holding compost bin and smiling in garden

Overcrowding

If your compost bin becomes overpopulated, worms may crawl out due to limited space and resources. Regularly monitor the population and consider splitting them into multiple bins or finding them a new home in a larger container.


Insufficient Space

Inadequate space within the compost bin can cause worms to feel cramped and uncomfortable. Ensure that your bin is of appropriate size and has enough bedding to accommodate the number of worms you have


Wheelbarrow full of garden waste and holding a compost bin

When your worms start venturing beyond the boundaries of your compost bin, it's a sign that something isn't quite right in their environment. By addressing the potential causes we've discussed, you can create an optimal habitat for your composting worms, ensuring their well-being and productivity. Regular monitoring and a little adjustment will keep your worms happily munching away, turning your organic waste into the black gold of compost.


Let’s Go Compost is a community-led effort to make compost bins free and accessible. We upcycle empty bulk ingredient bins into free, food-safe worm compost bins that are donated back to the community. Click here to get a free compost bin at our next pick up event.


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