Interesting Facts About European Night Crawlers
When it comes to worm farming, ENCs are among the few breeds that can withstand harsh weather conditions and environmental turbulence. Their tolerance for fluctuating temperatures makes them a better choice than African Night Crawlers for northern areas.
Although they inhabit a deeper layer of soil than red wigglers, they’re still some of the best composting worms nature has to provide. They dwell beneath topsoil and aren’t far from decomposing vegetative organic matter. They have a wide taste palette and will devour anything that’s decomposing; be it decaying leaves, animal manure or wood, ENCs will gobble down everything happily!
ENCs also have a generous appetite, which makes them a good choice for a compost bin and even a worm casting generator. Although they can’t eat as much as their tinier counterparts—red worms—they can still hold their own. Growing up to a good 7 inches and getting as thick as a lead pencil, Super Reds can consume half their body weight in a day!
Similar to red worms, ENCs also live in colonies and prefer to live in close proximity; thriving in what could only be called a writhing mass. Living in close quarters encourages breeding which is great for worm farming. But if you want your worms to grow properly and to their full potential, you should give them space to grow.
Although not as rapidly as red worms, ENCs can reproduce fairly quickly. After hatching from their cocoon, the average ENC takes 13 weeks to reach breeding maturity. And considering a mature European Night Crawler can lay a cocoon every week—out of which, on average, 1.5 baby ENCs hatch—you’re looking at a population that’ll double in less than 3 months if kept under excellent conditions.
Point to be noted: The above-mentioned figures are subject to change, depending on factors like temperature, food source, and bedding conditions.
Typically, ENCs thrive in temperatures ranging from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C) but they can also survive outside that range. However, if the temperature dips lower than 45°F, you’ll have to adequately insulate the bedding. The best solution would be to move them indoors, ideally to a basement. But if you can maintain the temperature above 45°F outdoors, go ahead.
Similarly, if the temperature rises above 80°F you’ll have to protect the colony from overheating.
Use proper shades or sprinkle water at regular intervals to prevent your worms from leaving your farm. If you run a small farm, moving them indoors would be your best bet.
As with most other worm breeds, ENCs’ oxygen intake is through their skin, so in to order to be able to breathe, they require a moist bed. This is important to note because ENCs require more moisture to survive than red wigglers. Therefore, if your ENCs live in deep plastic containers, the moisture will collect at the bottom, causing the worms to slither their way to the bottom. So try and utilize shallow containers or bins for your ENCs so you can easily monitor their activity and the moisture levels of the bedding.
This is important because moisture helps breakdown the vegetative organic matter present in the bedding. In fact, it’s the gooey mixture of moisture and decomposing organic waste that ENCs feed on.
What Do ENCs Eat?
European Night Crawlers will eat almost anything under the sun! They make for excellent com posters, feeding on virtually all kinds of leftovers; garden waste, decaying food, and leaves. However, there are some guidelines you should follow if you want to run a healthy and prospering worm farm.
Here’s a list of things you can feed your ENCs:
- Fruit Waste, but make sure it’s non-citrus, such as grapes, bananas, peaches, plumps, etc.
- Vegetable Waste such as beans, carrots, peas, lettuce, and other leafy greens in moderate amounts.
- Egg Shells, again in a moderate amount and ideally crushed to bits.
- Tree Leaves; however don’t feed them anything exotic.
- Cardboard. That’s right! Shredded cardboard makes for an ideal food source and supplicates as bedding.
- Coffee Grounds make for the ideal ENC fee if given in moderate amounts.
- Garden Waste such as beet tops and beanstalks.
- Starch Foods in moderation.
- Animal Manure is also acceptable but start out with horse manure.
- Worm Food that’s made especially for worms, such as worm chow.