What Can Red Wiggler Worms Eat? [Infographic]

Greetings worm farmers! For this month’s blog post, we decided to do something a little bit different.

We put our heads together here at The Squirm Firm, and we’ve come up with this amazing infographic to help you answer the question, “What can red wiggler worms eat?”

Red wiggler worms are practically vegans. Their diet consists mostly of vegetables and fruits, no meat, dairy or anything greasy. Healthy human foods are generally healthy for red wigglers too, but there are some important differences. Check out the infographic below!

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What Can Red Wiggler Worms Eat? - Infographic

Do you ever worry if you’re feeding your worms a healthy diet? This infographic is now available as a 6″ x 9″ refrigerator magnet at The Squirm Firm.

With this infographic by your side, you’ll never have to worry again. Click here to check ’em out!

Food to keep red wigglers’ hearts – all five of them — healthy:

Red wigglers enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

  • Vegetables: including celery, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, corn, cucumbers and cabbage
  • Fruits (non citrus only): including watermelon, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears and apples
  • Cooked Beans: black, pinto, white, and garbanzos are fine

Never add these foods to your worm bin:

There also are foods and materials that should never be added to the worm bin. For example, non-biodegradable materials don’t do any harm but they take up precious space.

  • Citrus fruits: they contain a compound called d-limonene, which can harm your worms
  • Meats, fish, bones, dairy, and eggs: these create foul odors and attract unwelcome visitors
  • Oily, greasy, salty, spicy foods: they are too hard to digest
  • Pet feces: may contain pathogens that are not welcome in the compost

Then there are the middle-ground foods that red wigglers can eat occasionally.

Foods which are okay for red worms in moderation:

These are starchy foods – think potatoes, grains and bread. Make sure you don’t overdo them; do not feed these items unless you are sure that your worms have finished any other starches that are already in your worm bin. Aside from too many being unhealthy for the worms, the presence of starches can encourage annoying gnats to move into your worm composting bin.

  • Pizza crust (without the cheese)
  • Pasta (no butter sauce)
  • Rice (brown or white, long or short grain)
  • Bread (whole wheat, sourdough or whatever you like)
  • Pancakes (or waffles without the whipped butter or cream)

Some extra red wiggler feeding tips:

Of course, red wigglers also enjoy materials not in a healthy human diet. These items include shredded newspapers, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags (without the staple), and paper egg cartons.

To keep your compost more chemical-free, be sure to rinse off the vegetables and fruits before tossing them in the bin. Even better, choose to eat only organic foods.

Occasionally add some fine soil or crushed eggshells – aka grit — to the compost bin. This helps the toothless warms process their food. Better yet, blend the food before feeding; this speeds up digestion, allowing your worms to process more food in less time.

So how do I remember all of this?

If this seems like a lot to take in, that’s because it is. So, in order to help you out we have decided to offer this infographic in physical form.

You can now order this infographic as a 6″ x 9″ refrigerator magnet!

Imagine you just finished with breakfast, and are about to rush out the door to go to work. You don’t remember if the scraps from your breakfast would be an appropriate breakfast for your worms.

You want to make sure you are feeding your worms a nutritious diet, but you don’t have the time to go research online.

Our new “What Can Red Wigglers Eat?” Infographic Refrigerator Magnet may be just what you need. Click here to check them out!

If you found this infographic useful, and would like more great worm composting tips, tricks, and how-to’s, sign up for our newsletter using the bar at the top of this page. Happy worming!

Article by Bob Kenney

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Readers Comments (39)

  1. My red wrigglers are not migrating up to the second tray even though I’ve been feeding them there for a couple of months now. The first tray that they are living in looks awesome and ready to use if they would move out.

    • One way to encourage red wigglers to leave a tray is to expose it to bright light. Place the active tray above the one you would like them to migrate to. The worms will move downward away from the light source into the dark tray below. Then you can reset the trays and get to using that beautiful worm compost!

  2. Instead of crushed eggshells (which I don’t usually have as I don’t use or eat eggs regularly) can I use crushed or powdered oyster shells?

  3. great info. thanks!

  4. Thank you for the most informative article. Being new at this brings up more questions than I would have believed possible.

    • Hi, Joyce! Always learning, right?! Stay tuned, we are planning even more informative articles on feeding your compost worms what would otherwise be waste. If you have any more questions, feel free to throw them our way. Happy to help!

  5. Ingo Boscheinen July 27, 2018 @ 9:33 pm

    Hi Francesca, I’m in Australia and love reading your posts. Vermiculture is on the rise here and we are working on beautiful timber worm farm. I am a builder and have developed a Cedar Worm Home, fully waterproofed and with a tray to collect tea. Perfect for balconies and garages. Plastic gets too hot in our climate. You can email me to further discuss, Warm Regards Ingo Boscheinen.

    • Hi, Ingo! I love your enthusiasm! I’ll bet you designed a great structure for your worms! I’m curious about how you waterproofed it and if that would be enough to protect the worms from cedar oils getting to the worms. Cedar contains toxins that are harmful to worms. They’ll avoid it and be okay if they have enough space to get away to, but I don’t recommend direct contact if that can be helped. Glad to know that vermiculture is alive and well around the world! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your info. I live in South Africa and it doesn’t seem like Vermiculture is very big here. So I found your blog very valuable. I realised now that some of the foods I am feeding my worms aren’t the best – like Orange peals and Pineapple peals.

    Was also concerned that my castings are very clumpy and moist and the videos all looks nice and dry – you explained that very well. Thank you

  7. Hi. Nick from South Africa again. I have been harvesting and never concerned myself with eggs. Didn’t realise they would be all mixed in – makes sense though. So, Is there a way of separating the castings from the eggs without a sieve?

    • Hi, Nick. Yeah, those little egg sacks are easy to lose track of in all that worm cast compost! Without a sieve, I’m afraid it’s up to your eyes and fingertips to do the work. I personally don’t actually sieve my cocoons out, as much as sift the compost so that it’s all light and fluffy. Then I’m able to really easily rake through to find them. I still need to pick them out by hand, but its way easier when there are no clumps for cocoons to hide in. Best of luck! Let us know if you come up with another brilliant method!

  8. I’ve been wondering if adding wild mushrooms. Living in Maine, USA and we gather mushrooms regularly on our walks – some we eat but others – of course not. Still, would the worms be fussy? If yes to the idea of adding wild mushrooms – should I run the through the blender first or let them rot a bit before adding them to the menu?

    Thanks much.

  9. Is it okay to blend up moldy fruits or veggies and feed them to the worms? berry season just passed a bit ago and I had some strawberries I forgot about in the refer.

    • Yes, Sean. Blending up molding fruits and veggies to serve to your worms is still safe. There are microorganisms in the bin that feed specifically on mold. Go for it!

  10. Love this information very helpful! I’m new to worms and have a nice starter bin, my worms are active and according to your chart I’ve got the right food in there but I just can’t tell if they’re eating it or if I need to put something else in. I so worried they’ll starve! How long does it usually take them to eat a small handful of leafy vegetables?

  11. Awesomeness, thanks at all!

  12. So glad to have stumbled upon this site! I am about to harvest for the first time. My question is how long can the castings be kept and do they need to be stored in a certain manner?

    • Hi Cindee! Thanks for asking! Damp castings remain a very nutritious fertilizer for up to 3 years when kept aerated and adequately moist. The living organisms within the compost require fresh oxygen to have a healthy aerobic environment.

  13. Good information, thanks. One more question, can the worms thrive on weeds from my garden. How about a small helping of grass clippings? Thanks for your efforts.

    • Hi, Lorraine! Worms are happy to eat up lots of different vegetation. Its best to serve such things mixed with other browns so as not to overwhelm the bin with heat-producing/ nitrogen packed greens that can mat, mold, heat up, and block things like air flow and drainage. Watch that your clippings are also pesticide-free as that is harmful to the ecosystem of the worm bin. Also, avoid all known toxic plants- poison ivy, sumac, etc.

  14. I have moved my worms into the house for the winter but now I have a gnat problem. Any suggestions?

    • Indoor pests are no bueno. Fungus gnats, like many other small flying insects find the worm bin the ideal place to breed. Prevention is key! To get rid of them, I’ve heard coffee grounds can work quite well. Aside from that I suggest vacuuming up the adults or catching them on fly paper or in a solution they may not be able to fly away from. Best of luck!

  15. Gnats do show up. Been told by my mother that the gnats are on the fruit, so always wash your fruit and vegetables. In my worm factory I put apple cider vinegar in medicine bottles and place in the corners. Gnats are attracted to the sweetness. I am new to this site but find it very informative. Lately I have been taking my red’s to the beach, it’s fun.

    • Ah, I too have become very fond of my reds – they’re my friends now. My partner thinks I’m pretty nutty because I have a bit of a chat to the worm farm. But I think they’ve got spirit and they do such a good job eating all our veggie scraps. The least I can do is thank them and check how they are right??? 🙂

  16. Hi everybody, I am from Namibia, a grade 4 learner and I want to start a worm farm to teach other children to use leftovers to create one’s own garden soil and it is good to give back to nature. Any other ideas on what I need to keep track of in my little black book? Thank you Keanu Pool

    • Hi Keanu! So great to hear of your desire to pass on the wisdom of worm composting with others. Just think of how much can be done if we work together! There are so many great reasons to practice worm composting. It is a way to truly heal the soil, reduce our negative impact, and also teaches children (people) to be ONE with nature- to live harmoniously. By the way, stay tuned- April’s article is all about why composting worms make great pets too! Check out our Getting Started articles for much more, https://thesquirmfirm.com/tag/getting-started/.

  17. Hello I am so pleased to join and discuss worms. I have had a worm farm for years but I have not really learnt to think it is improving my garden. I use the castings and the juice to spread over plants but they don’t seem to grow. I tested the castings ph and it read alkaline about 8. So my farm has got problems. What do you think???

    • Hello Rhonda, welcome! If you have had a worm composting operation going for years, I’ll bet you are doing just fine. If a slightly alkaline reading of 8 seems not to be bothering your worms, then I would suggest making sure you just keep adding a nice mixture of browns and greens for bedding and food. As for your soil, make sure to mix the worm compost into the soil for best results. And be careful with the “juice”, that is leachate which can damage plants if used in too strong a concentration.

      • mixing the pot up i’m gonna say neccesary evil but the worms hate you for it and try to escape till you force them to go back into your container..may lost a bit of worms cause of mixing you do need have a little time doing it cause yah worms will get a bit poed at yah

        • Thanks JW. You bring up a good point. When turning your worm bedding for aeration, feedings, or even to dry it out, it is important to be pretty gentle and to use a tool with blunt edges. Try using a hand rake with only 4 widely spaced tines. It protects the worms and effectively lifts bedding without slicing through any of the material or inhabitants. A dedicate hand rake for worm composting is one of my very favorite things. If you need one, check out our worm composting accessories page.

  18. I am new and a visual learner. I would love if you could post some videos starting at the beginning with a new set up and show us how to do this. I don’t know what it should look like when castings are ready to use, how to use them or make tea and what flowers I can use it on.

  19. I was worried about putting avocado in my bin. I’m glad I found your page and a got a great explanation. I am going to run the seed on a cheese grater and then let it sit out for awhile too. I have been putting my egg shells in a grinder before putting them in my bin. Is this ok?

  20. I would like to start a worm bin/farm but know that my wife and I would never be able to produce enough food scraps to keep them fed. My question to you is, if I were to pulverize the food in a food processer and add pulverized well aged horse manure to the food, would this be a good food source for the worms?

    • Dear Dallas, Compost worms absolutely love well-aged horse manure. It is an excellent way to supplement the food scraps you create from home. You are ready to get started! Enjoy!

  21. Dear Francesca, in reference to the well-aged horse manure you mentioned: I read that some worm-growers are concerned that the horse manure will contain residues of the de-worming paste most stabled horses get once every few months. I have my doubts, because the worms that the paste is meant to kill are internal worms of the intestines, and very different. On the other hand, other people claim that the diversity of dung beetles is diminishing fast in Europe, due to the practice of deworming that is so widespread. So for the moment I am reluctant to add even well-aged horse manure to my colony. Do you have more solid information on this?

    • I am far from an authority on the subject of horse deworming agents and how they affect red wigglers. However, I can tell you that worms on horse farms often thrive on the piles of manure left to decompose. I would also assume that once passing through the gut of the horse and being left to decompose, it would become inert, or no longer toxic. Furthermore, all I’ve read on the topic does lead me to believe that even treated horses create manure that worms find to be the ideal bedding and feed. Try a little bit to start and work your way up. Let us know if you discover anything else!


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