Worm Bin Exodus: It’s not you…it’s me

Not the warm welcome expected upon our return from a work conference in San Diego. While we were trying to keep classy, the worms decided to up and move out. All was looking great in worm town before I left. They were slowly breaking down the bedding, no bad smell and you could see it pulsating with worminess. I spritzed them for good measure and headed out for sunny California.

We have no idea how they actually got out but can imagine it was quite the feat, in super slow motion (sort of sad I missed it…) They managed to wriggle there way all OVER the garage, under the car, under garden books, behind shelves and I am sure in places yet to be found. All but a handful were dried up worm gunk that had to be scraped off the floor, no broom could move them. A small colony, likely the slow pokes, were left in the black tray at the bottom, small, thirsty but still alive. I immediately watered them, fluffed their bedding, dampened it and recombined what was left with hopes of regeneration. Or at least have them hang on until I get my hands on some more.

As for the other two thousand worms, I scraped them up, swept them into the dust pan and deemed them high quality, organic chicken treats! Waste not, want not. I knew the girls would love those protein strips. The thought crossed my mind to put the hens in the garage and just have them eat them up off the floor, but I don’t think they could have dislodged the stuck on worms without concerted effort and a more generous attention span.

So, why the mass exodus? No one was talking but I think the bin might have just dried out. I know the garage didn’t get hot, as the weather had been pretty mild. My worm book offered no hints and at great risk of overthinking these brainless invertebrates, I googled. It looks like others have had worms reenacting the Shawshank Redemption too. Hypotheses presented:

  • Tile floors might be too cold (mine are on cement), so move them up off the floor. Maybe put some burlap or cardboard layers underneath them
  • Too dry of bedding (add water, but not too much, try covering with damped full sheet of newspaper)
  • Too many vibrations (note: I am now busting out in song… Beach Boys this time)
  • Scraps too hard to eat, one person blends hers up first (I might try, but can only imagine the mess this might generate.)
  • Too wet, so mix in dry bedding and leave lid off
  • Extreme temperatures, while nothing in Seattle is extreme, goal temperature is 55-77 F, so the time might come that I need to put them in the basement this summer. Will have to monitor.
  • Not enough air, so fluff the bedding (check. Note: now I am singing Jordin Sparks… ugg)
  • Not enough food, so add food and more bedding (hmm, maybe, I hadn’t fed them anything since the original meal but there was still bedding to eat, technically)
  • Overcrowding and time to split or add levels (doubtful in my case given how new the bin is)
  • Adventurous lot, not much you can do to squash this explorer spirit
  • Bad storm brewing (I kid you not), apparently they will return when the coast is clear
  • They don’t like change, well I tried to prepare the people as best as could but this is really up to them
  • Restless with the moon phases
  • Wrong type of bedding, I knew risks of shredded paper but read plenty of success stories but maybe my worms dislike shredded bills as much as I

My next steps will be to keep moist, add more soil for good measure and feed them some new stuff. Oh, and get more worms. Anyone have some to share?

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