Wriggly Worms in the HOTBIN
Everything you need to know about worms in your HOTBIN!
I have Worms in my HOTBIN, is this OK?
Yes. If you have worms in your HOTBIN there is no need to worry, equally if you have none there is no need to worry.
Worms are not needed in the HOTBIN – the waste will still decompose because bacteria do most of the decomposition. Worms are good – they decompose waste and leave a rich “vermicompost” behind. This worms also deposit a mucus around the gut digestate which some studies show is beneficial to soil fertility.
How do worms get in the HOTBIN – it has a sealed base?
Worm egg casts are often found small pieces of soil or old compost. Worms are often attached to leaf mould. Often the worms and eggs are added to the HOTBIN when the first base layer is set up.
How do they survive the high temperatures?
The HOTBIN quickly settles in temperature zones – hot top, warm middle, cool base (see graph here). Worms and egg casts will not survive above about 35C, but they will often survive in the base layer.
I have opened my HOTBIN in spring and the base layer is full of worms?
This is just a natural population increase from a few eggs. Normally in winter the soil temperature falls below 5C and worms stop reproducing. In the HOTBIN, even the base layer stays at around 10C and there is lots of food. The worms just keep multiplying, so in spring there can be lots of them in the base. It is also very common to have none!
I have worms crawling up the walls and all over the lid – why?
This can happen shortly after set up, when old compost and new waste has been added. The heat quickly builds up. Worms do not tolerate heat above 40C so they look for a way out. Often they will burrow down to the base, but because the heat rises in the HOTBIN they will often move to the side wall and then climb up. Once at the lid they are stuck. There are several things you can do: collect them up and move them into the base (just take the door off and pop then in the bottom), put them onto your soil (cover them over or the birds will have them, depending on you personal views – feed them to the birds, or leave they to fry (due to heat) and let the bacteria turn them back into compost.
I have white tiny thread like worms all over the lid and/or door – what are they?
These are pot worms (enchytraeids) and resemble a piece of white sewing thread a few millimetres long. They occur quite naturally and part of composting process – they do the same job as the tiger worms. They thrive at a lower temperatures and more acidic pH conditions. They also do not tolerate the heat, so you can get a mass exodus.. This tends to happen if you have emptied and anaerobic wet bin, remixed it all and it then starts to heat up. Just wipe them up with a paper kitchen towel and place on top of hot waste – they will be compost within hours.