I’ll admit right off that the worm’s compost bin has been going through a rough patch. Everything was great at first, but then an odd smell arose and many of the red worms went mushy. Not fun. Instead of happy, healthy red worms I now had a bin full of food and millions of little tiny wriggly white worms. THEY seemed happy, but what was going on?!
After some research and soul searching, I think I have the answer. The little white wrigglers are “pot worms”, a member of the family Enchytraeidae and so related to the regular red worms. They really love acidic and somewhat anaerobic conditions. Pot worms themselves aren’t harmful to the regular worms, but the conditions on the other hand… These are problems brought on by overfeeding, especially of foods like starches (rice, potato), citrus, and onion.
I was guilty guilty guilty of over-enthusiastically feeding most of my worms to death! Happily the little white worms were continuing to eat, so the smell was back to normal and the food was slowly disappearing. I added another few newspapers worth of shredded paper to dilute the food and decrease the moisture content a little, and for the past week I have been mixing the bin every day and not adding any more food.
At this point I have found several healthy red worms hanging out, including a mating pair! I did not get a picture of this (seemed wrong, somehow) but if you’ve just gotta see what this looks like go visit this awesome worm blog.