The Great Red Wiggler Worm

Common Names:
  • Red Wiggler
  • Red worm
  • Trout worm
  • Pan fish worm
  • Reds
  • Manure Worms
  • Tiger Worms

Scientific Name: 
  • Eisenia Fetida 

These popular and versatile earthworms have been both the composting worm of choice and the earthworm that most of us learned to fish with as kids.

The smallest of the earthworm varieties, Red Wiggler Earthworms are between 1½ and 3 inches in length. Redworms have both sexes, but mating is still necessary. If the worm has a swollen band, called the clitellum, at about one-third between head and tail, this means that the worm is sexually mature. Redworms mate in their bedding at different levels, sometimes even on the surface.

They may mate at any time of the year. They find each other and lie with their heads in opposite direction, bodies closely joined. They produce a secretion and secrete this through their clitellum, a mucus that forms a band around each of them. Sperm from each worm move down a groove into receiving pouches of the other worm. The sperm enters in a storage sac. Some time after the worms have separated, the clitellum secretes another substance called albumin. This material forms a cocoon in which the eggs are fertilized and baby worms hatch. Redworm cocoons are round shaped and small. They change color during their development, first white, becoming yellow, later brown. When new worms are ready to emerge, the cocoons are turning red. It takes at least three weeks for the worms to develop in the cocoon. Temperature and other conditions are factors in the development of the hatchlings. Although a cocoon might hold as many as 20 eggs, usually only 3 or 4 worms will emerge. The young hatchlings are whitish with a pink tinge showing their blood vessels. As with other earthworm species, Red Wigglers are hermaphroditic. However, two worms are still required for reproduction.

The two worms join clitella, the large lighter-colored bands which contain the worms' reproductive organs, and which are only prominent during the reproduction process. The two worms exchange sperm. Both worms then secrete cocoons which contain several eggs each. These cocoons are lemon-shaped and are pale yellow at first, becoming more brownish as the worms inside become mature. These cocoons are clearly visible to the naked eye. In addition to being the optimum worm for composting, they are an ideal bait worm for trout and pan fish.

Red Wigglers are also widely used for feeding aquarium and small pond fish and small herps. If you've got a hungry turtle or amphibian, Red Wigglers are a wonderful live food choice. Also, many bird owners are discovering the benefits of feeding Red Wigglers. Offer them as a tasty delicacy!

Nutritional Value of Red Worms:

Moisture- 84.8%
Fat- 2.0%
Protein- 10.5%

Composting with worms also decreases the number of greenhouses gasses (Methane and Nitric Oxide) released into the air when waste is dumped in landfills.

Red Wigglers are an epigic worm meaning they reside on the top layer of soil.  Red Wigglers are often kept in compost piles, heaps, and bins to increase the speed of composting.  Originating from Europe it was unintentionally introduced to the American in potted plants brought over.

Fishing Bait:
Red Wigglers are easy to use as bait, easily surviving in temperatures between 38 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Redworms are very active on the hook, and last longer under water than most other earthworms. Another plus is that Red Wigglers are not as sensitive to temperature and sunlight as common nightcrawlers. Common nightcrawlers need to be kept cool to survive and are toast in the heat and sun.

As the worms do not like to be disturbed, it is best to feed the worms 1-2 times per week rather than daily. Worms eat about half their weight daily. If feeding twice a week, add 1.5 - 2 lbs. each time. If a lot of food scraps are left over from previous feeding wait a day or two prior to adding additional food. Bury food a couple of inches under the bedding. Bury the food in a different location each time. Be sure to cover food with bedding. Fruit flies are attracted to exposed food. Sprinkle a handful or so of crushed eggshells on top of bedding about once a week. Eggshells counter the acidity in food scraps. Do not over feed the worms! Add additional bedding (eg. leaves, straw, shredded paper, etc.) when it is difficult to bury food scraps. Also helps absorb excess moisture if bedding becomes too wet. Worms generate heat and produce liquid, therefore, condensation will form on the lid.

Worm Foods:
  • Fruit/vegetable peels
  • Coffee grounds/filters
  • Plant cuttings
  • Tea bags
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Brown paper towels
  • Cooked pasta & rice (no sauce)
  • Egg cartons/drink trays
  • Breads/cereals/grains
  • Leaves/grass clippings
  • Beard clippings
  • Beans
  • Manure (horse, cow, rabbit)
  • Sawdust (from untreated wood)

Worms do not have teeth, they have a gizzard and use the soil to process their food. Your worms will be eternally grateful if you chop the organic material into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the greater the surface area to rot. The worms can process the organic matter more rapidly. They adore the pulp from juicers.

Red Wigglers excrete a highly nitrous fertilizer (called castings), which contain 5 times the available nitrogen, 7 times the available phosphorus, 3 times the exchangeable magnesium, 11 times the available potash, and 1.5 times the calcium found in 6 inches of top soil. 

Interesting facts about Red Wigglers:

  • Though Red Wigglers are a species of earthworm, they are rarely found in soil. They are strictly a composting worm and prefer to live above ground in the first layer of the soil that is loose and rich of organic materials.
  • Red Wigglers are photosensitive, therefore, they only work in the dark. They DO NOT like daylight!
  • Red Wigglers will excrete a stinky smelling liquid when handled roughly.
  • Red Wigglers when happy and healthy can eat about half of their weight in food each day, sometimes even more!
  • Red Wigglers have gizzards that need grit to help grind up their food. Soil, shredded leaves, coffee grinds are examples of things that support the Red Wigglers digestive process.
  • Red Wigglers are hermaphroditic (they have both male and female sex organs) but two worms are needed to reproduce. The two worms join together and exchange sperm and both worms secretes cocoons that contain eggs.
  • Red Wiggler eggs can contain between 3-7 Red Wiggler babies Per egg!
  • Red Wigglers are ready to mate when their clitellums (protruding ring) are orange in color.
  • Red Wigglers — the Cadillac of worms!” was an advertisement that aired during a broadcast on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.
  • Teenage Red Wigglers eat more than adult Red Wigglers.  (this probably wouldn’t surprise anyone whom has a teenager of their own living in their home)
  • Red Wigglers love watermelon, pureed pumpkin and corn meal. It is said that corn meal encourages Red Wigglers to reproduce prolifically.
  • Red Wigglers can double in number every 90 days!
  • Red Wigglers will self regulate their reproductive cycle as their environment begins to become to crowded.
  • Red Wigglers red wigglers can survive a wide range of temperatures but will freeze to death if exposed to sub-freezing temps. they will also not survive long in temps above 85f

Fist things you should do after receiving your Red Wigglers in the mail.

Your Red Wigglers will need to be hydrated ASAP after they arrive to you. We ship our Red Wigglers in dry peat moss to protect against temperature extremes they may face during the shipping process.  We recommend getting your Red Wigglers into their new home immediately after you receive them. Also,Giving them a few gentle mists of water from a spray bottle will help re-hydrate your Red Wigglers.

We have found it best to place your Red Worms in a pile on top of you compost bin,or pile, and cover them with wet newspaper. This will help keep their environment moist, as well as to keep light from getting through and stressing your new red worms.
After getting your new Red Wigglers into their new environment, keep them covered for 24/48 hours, undisturbed, to allow them to acclimate themselves to the new surroundings.

If your new Red Worms seem sluggish give them a day or two before getting worried. The shipping process takes a lot out of them, they should recover in no more than 48 hours.