The trending practice of worm composting draws people of all ages into a subterranean world of shared wonder. The eco-conscious gasp in awe at realizing the enormous impact that just one pound of hungry red wigglers makes.
A single pound of worms is so much more than the sum of its parts. Their numbers alone are astonishing but their rate of reproduction, appetite and transformative powers are nothing short of incredible!
Dig beneath the surface of a worm compost system – you’ll reveal a sheer multitude of squirmers hard at work. It’s hard to imagine, but one can’t help but wonder, just how many worms can be in there?!
The answer has to do with a bunch of factors but to say an established bin has JILLIONS of worms is a generalization we are safe to make. Please read on if “JILLIONS” is a bit too vague and you’ve just gotta know more!
A Sound Pound
Wherever your place in the great big community of worm farmers, today you will learn just how many Eisenia fetida are in a pound, what that looks like, and find out how to learn what a pound of worms means for you and your very own worm bin.
But first, 1 question-
What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of red wigglers?
Oh, come on, you didn’t fall for that, did you? I didn’t actually think I could fool you, but the question does help make my point- One pound of red wigglers weighs just as much as a pound of butter, feathers, or a pound of anything else, for that matter.
Purchased by the Pound
So just what exactly do you get in a pound of red wiggler composting worms these days?
These days, we can purchase Eisenia fetida through retailers who sell red wigglers by the pound. Being able to buy by the pound is really convenient and a great way to go about it.
Knowing the size of your initial worm herd has loads of advantages:
- If you can determine how much food waste you produce each week, you can follow a simple formula to figure out how many worms (in pounds) it takes to recycle what would have otherwise been trash.
- In general, knowing the size of your herd in pounds also helps you determine how much to feed them to keep them active, safe, and healthy.
- Still, others may use the measure of a pound of worms to determine how much black gold compost they can expect to harvest every few months. Yes!! That’s me!
- Professional breeders who know the size of their working herd can figure out exactly what a pound of worms costs to raise, package, sell, and ship so they can build a successful and sustainable business model.
But the question still remains:
Just how many red wigglers are in a pound?
To figure that out for myself, I had to do a little digging. Literally! I dug into my own bins to gather as close to an honest pound of red wigglers as I could. I plucked and picked and pulled worms together for hours.
I tell ya, this was nothing short of a labor of love!
I did my best to remove as much of the finished vermicompost from my dear fertilizer makers as I could. In the end, I had an impressive and pretty amazing collection of my hard working worms all massed together in a big measuring cup.
Viola! I’d gathered a volume of 2 cups of worms by the time my kitchen scale measured a pound. I can’t say I counted them out, but 2 cups seemed like a good even measure to work with and keep as a standard.
A Pound of Worms Revealed
When a worm farmer harvests worms for sale (or measuring for a blog post!) there is little if any sorting that goes on before the worms are pulled and packed. That means when we buy worms we can expect to get a well-mixed bag of what should amount to a pound of worms in a handful of bedding. According to my research, that comes to nearly 1,000 worms per batch!
Every Worm Matters
Since composting worms are a cohesive bunch you could anticipate that any given sample of 1,000 composting worms would have individuals at every stage of maturity.
If we break that concept down a bit further we can assume that in every pound there would be:
- egg sacks holding 1-5 worms each.
- juveniles only weeks out of their egg sacks.
- mature worms between 3 months and 5 years old.
The vast majority of the worms you’d purchase and receive in a pound would be of mature or reproducing age, whereas many fewer would be juveniles or those still in cocoons.
Did you ever Wonder?
These crafty minds figured out what the numbers would come to if we did take the time to measure a pound of worms by age.
This is what they calculated:
- Roughly 1000 mature composting worms equal one pound.
- Roughly 4000 juvenile composting worms equal one pound.
- It would take well over 100,000 composting worm hatchlings to equal one pound.
Knowledge is the Birthplace of Wisdom
We hope you enjoy learning these little-known facts about composting worms!
But, now that you know just how many worms are in a pound, the real question you should be asking is, “How many red wigglers do I need to start?”. Click to discover the perfect quantity for your worm composting needs today!