I recently downloaded an ebook on my cell phone called Raising Composting Earthworms for Fun and Profit by Daniel C Merrill. I learned quite a bit while reading through this books actually. I so far have only set up wormerys with red wigglers, but I’ve been thinking about doing a nightcrawler worm bin so that I can have bait for when I got fishing with my boys. Some of the most interesting points for me were the differences mentioned in the book between nightcrawlers and red wigglers.
When it comes to their habitat red wigglers and nightcrawlers are pretty much the same but there are three key differences between them. Nightcrawlers are burrowers, they breed much slower then red wigglers, and they are less efficient composters.
It turns out that night crawlers are burrowers when compared to red wigglers who tend to stay in the top 6-8 inches. This is an important fact to know because if you are going to set up a worm bin for night crawlers then you are going to have to have a deeper bin for them to be happy. If you are limited in space then this could be a major issue.
Red wigglers are well known for their prolific breeding! When conditions are right the red wiggler can double in population every 90 days! It turns out though that nightcrawlers are going to breed much slower then that. This is interesting because I would have expected them to increase their population at the same rate.
So depending on how many nightcrawlers you are looking to use this means you are either going to have to wait longer to get them or start with many more in the original population!
Less Efficient Composters
The other surprising nightcrawler fact that I learned is that they are much less efficient composters then the red wiggler. I actually knew that pound for pound they were probably a little less efficient, otherwise why would everyone choose the red wiggler as the best worm for composting?! But it sounds like they are going to consume significantly less food for the same weight of worms as compared to red wigglers.
Basically this means that you would only choose nightcrawlers for your worm in a worm bin if you are specifically looking to get bait to use or sell. The compost and compost tea that you get are just going to be a nice side effect of getting the bait you are looking for. If it is really the compost that you are after then you definitely need to choose the red wiggler.