We often get asked about the different kinds of worms that are used in composting and sometimes fishing. The main three used in United States are the Redworm, European Nightcrawler, and African Nightcrawler. Nature’s Little Recyclers currently sells Redworms.
Redworms (Eisenia foetida) have many names, including red wigglers and tiger striped. Most names are regional, but all represent the same worm species. Redworms represent the best composters for most uses, as they live on shallow composting material and surrounding ground. Generally they live within six inches of soil and ground covering. They represent the fastest growing and most diverse composting worms given their ability to eat, along with healthy microbes, half their body weight a day and grow to egg-laying maturity in 42 days and full maturity in 90 days. Redworms also can handle a temperature range safely between 45 to 85 degrees in most circumstances.
European nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis) have many names, such as super reds and red wigglers, which causes some branding to be shared with the redworms discussed above. This can cause confusion, but Europeans are much larger in size, often growing as long as 6 inches. And unlike the quick maturity of redworms, Europeans take a 150 days to mature. They also need deeper piles, so they are more suited for outdoor and garden work. In addition, the European Nightcrawler is a preferred worm for cooled manure piles and landscape waste. They can handle some food waste, but they are more sensitive to food being too rich or not composting fast enough. European Nightcrawlers can handle a temperature range of only 40 to 75 degrees, as they are sensitive to heat.
African nightcrawlers (Eudrilus eugeniae) are generally known as ANCs or sometimes super worms. African nightcrawlers are the largest worm, growing up to 12 inches long. Like Europeans, they take longer to mature; they can take up to five weeks to grow to egg-laying maturity, and up to six months to gain full weight. However, they can be grown in both shallow and deep piles, and African nightcrawlers are many fishermen’s favorite worm. When it comes to temperature, African nightcrawlers are the opposite of Europeans are are sensitive to the cold; they need to remain above 50 degrees, but they are able to handle up to 90 degrees reasonably well.
All-in-all, there are a variety of composting worms to best serve your needs.