What Do Red Wiggler Worms Eat?

What Do Red Wiggler Worms Eat
To keep your wigglers healthy and happy, you need to answer this question: “What do red worms eat?”The reality is, they eat just about everything! Well, except for meat, fish, dairy and processed foods.The key to feeding your composting worms is a balanced diet of slightly aged and finely chopped scraps. Read on for a pretty comprehensive list that answers the question: What do red worms eat?

  • The staple of the diet is leaves, preferably rotted and shredded a bit, which can be used as bedding and also serve as a food source.
  • Vegetable scraps and peels, the slimier and smaller the pieces, the better.
  • Coffee grounds and filters – Hey, red worms love their caffeine kick in the morning, too!
  • Fruit rinds, cores, skins, rotted or just left over, including banana peels, a red worm favorite.
  • Tea bags, used and still moist, work well – be sure to remove any staples, though!
  • Breads and grains can be used, but be stingy with them at first, until you are sure the worms like your presentation. They should be moistened a bit, before adding to the bin.
  • Manure is another item that can work well, but you should proceed with caution. Add sparingly, and stick with rabbit and horse manure, if available. Or … don’t use any at all!
  • Dry dog food, moistened in water, is an nutritious meal for the worms, too. So if the dogs bowl has some left over, dampen it and add to the mix for some variety.
  • Cardboard, oddly enough, is a great source of food. The worms like to chew up the moistened paper product, and are especially fond of the glue that holds the corrugated product together.
  • One last item to add once in a while: finely ground up egg shells. Be sure they are cleaned of any egg residue first, and grind the shells into a fine grit. Worms don’t have teeth, and believe it or not, these gritting little particles will be beneficial to the digestive process (of course, the end product of the digestion is the coveted and nutrient-rich worm castings!).

NOTE: The addition of egg shells should be done very sparingly. Also, the addition of a cleaned and in-tact shell fragment or two can be provide welcome shelter to the smallest, youngest worms in your bin. Feel free to add a little shell structure and see what happens!

As a point of emphasis, remember that worms do not do well with meat products and fish, as these items can attract a variety of pests that you DO NOT want in or around your house (think rats). They also cannot properly digest dairy products. Avoid these items at all times.

Also, fight the urge to add any processed food to the bin. This will only cause trouble for your worm army.

Some foods to AVOID:

  • Meat and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Greasy scraps or left-overs
  • Non-organic or processed goodies (think Twinkies)
  • Citrus fruit, including lemons, oranges, grapefruit

When faced with considering “What do red worms eat?” the best course of action is to add new foods sparingly. Don’t upset the delicate balance of the worm bin, and monitor the worms to determine which menu items are well-received. Adapt the above lists to suit your worms.

Article by Donny B

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Readers Comments (8)

  1. Daniel Bridson May 13, 2017 @ 6:29 am

    I’m wondering about old fish food. I no longer have the fish. I have TetraMin Tropical flakes, HBH Crab & Lobster Bites, and Hikari Betta Bio-Gold. I can always put them in the outdoor compost or bury them near plants, but if the worms can eat them, I’d rather do that. I can very easily blend these into powder and/or into a mix with shredded paper, or leftover plant matter

    • Daniel, I think your idea of blending or powdering the food so that it can be mixed in will make the fish food a safe additive. If you have any doubts, offer just a small amount at first and take note of any reactions. Way to be resourceful!

      • I was wondering the same thing, if fish flakes could be fed to red wigglers to fatten them up.

        • In general, a diet of processed grains, such as oatmeal or cornmeal, is considered a quick and easy way to get your worms to bulk up.
          Fish food, however, is commonly made of such things as fish meal, squid meal, shrimp meal, earthworms, spirulina, and vitamins and minerals. If you have a bunch of it on hand, I’d suggest rehydrating some of it to make it easily consumable and giving it a shot. Good luck!

  2. I read dry dog food soaked in water was okay, but I thought meat or fish wasn’t aloud in the bin?

    • I’m glad you asked about this! You are absolutely correct that animal proteins should be left out of the worm bin. Without knowing the ingredients used to make the dry dog food I wouldn’t be able to say for certain that if it were safe of not. Many kibbles are made primarily of grain- which could be safe in moderation. If you want to give it a try, I suggest just making sure it’s a meat-free product, then add just a bit to see how your red wigglers take to it. If by chance the dog food is also a salty product, that is something you would be best to keep out of the worm bin. Let us know what you find out!

  3. hello my name is molly and this agood wabsite ia m 9

    • Hi, Molly! You might be one of our very youngest worm farmers! Glad to have you along! What brought you to The Squirm Firm?


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