What Are These White Worms in my Worm Farm?

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The question “what are these white worms in my worm farm?” is one that comes up frequently enough to deserve it’s own post. Often new worm farmers will think they’ve had a massive hatching of baby red wigglers when they actually have a population of pot worms. Pot worms (Latin enchytraeids) live in regions with very high organic material content and are related to other compost worms. If they’re in your bin they are helping out your compost worms.

  Pot worms themselves are a healthy addition to a worm farm, but very large populations of pot worms can indicate an environmental problem for your red wigglers. Common issues pot worms might indicate are a PH issue or a moisture problem. Letting bins dry a little and treating them with eggshell or garden lime can sometimes help reduce their numbers to more acceptable levels. 

 Pot worms seem to be very sensitive to a lack of oxygen and will frequently be seen climbing up the walls of a plastic bin that lacks airflow.

Enchytraeids aka pot worms. Photo courtesy of compostshop.co.nz
pot worms. maggots and a baby red wiggler for comparison. Photo courtesy compostshop.co.nz

Pot worms are relatively easy to distinguish from baby compost worms. Red wigglers and other common compost worms are a pinkish color, even at birth. Enchytraeids on the other hand are non-pigmented and are white throughout their life cycle.

 Julie in New Zealand who graciously supplied photos for this post has begun intentionally growing pot worms to supply a fish feed niche.

Overall there’s no reason to panic if you have a few pot worms in your worm farm. Now take a deep breath of relief and stop worrying. 

Larry Shier
 

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