Worms Are Crawling Out Of The Worm Bin

Posted on Feb 5 2010 - 6:18am by Mike Lieberman

I must be making a name in the worm community and not a good one. When I checked on my latest batch of worms some of them crawled out of the bin. The ones that escaped didn’t last long and were dead under the kitchen sink.

Since I started this third bin, I moved it under the kitchen sink to protect them from the light. I also noticed that some of the worms were crawling to the top of the bin, but the lid was on.

Fresh bedding was added because I didn’t want to make the same mistake as before and have too moist of a bedding.

The lid was also removed to get some more circulation going throughout the bin.

Once the bin was removed from the under the sink, there were dead worms that escaped the bin scattered under the kitchen sink. Dried up and dead worms are gross.

Since the worms are escaping, it means that there is something wrong with the bin that they don’t like and want to escape. It could just be a few stragglers or they could’ve heard about me and my worm killing ways and decided it was best to off themselves.

I’m going to add more bedding and toss it together with what’s already in there to freshen it up and aerate.

If this doesn’t work, it’s likely my last go at this.

Any more advice to save these worms?

  • Laurie

    I decided to try worms last summer and have been successful but I think it's been “dumb luck”. :) Mine are in a large rubbermaid tub which sits inside another tub so that the excess moisture can drain. I also keep the lid on tightly and so far have had no escapees. I rarely add moisture as the soil is quite moist. The soil my worms are producing is beautiful! Don't give up!! Best of luck!

  • botanybuddy

    You may just have had too many worms. That really isn't that many to lose. Just don't touch them for a week. They'll work it out themselves. Also, I don't keep my worms in the dark other than the lid they are under. They won't come out if they have to go into the light. They could also just be adventurous.

  • Kaikit Wong

    Hi, i created my first worm farm similar to yours. But just slightly different.

    Instead of one bin, i have two bins of the same size, and i put one bin inside the other. For the inner bin, i drilled holes into the base and lined with insect netting so that the water can escape into the outer bin but not the worms. And i also drilled holes into the cover so that will provide air. I also put a insect netting over the top of the bin before putting on the cover. The worms will climb up to the netting, but they can't get out. The netting also prevent flies from entering the compost.

    Then i put the cover of the outer bin over the top, but NOT tight fitting so that the air can circulate through the gaps and holes, but the rain does not get in. This is because i have to put my worm farm outdoors.

    For the bedding, i put a layer of potting mix first, as i think worms like some soil to hide in. If i put papers, i soak them in water overnight so they become soft and also provide moisture. I also blend up my scraps so that will be easy for the worms to eat.

    That was my first worm farm and it worked fantastic.

    I hope these suggestions help. Cheers, Kaikit

  • http://twitter.com/Mrs_J_A_M Jo (Quasi) Mitchell

    I am not sure what's happening, whether it has much to do with temperatures etc.

    My worms have had their first birthday recently and all are still intact. I do keep them in the shed though. Away from noises, vibrations and light. They might find the kitchen sink too noisy in the pipes, maybe?

    I am not sure whether or not the farm is starting to smell odd? That would mean you may need to sprinkle dolomote/garden lime in it to keep it from being too acidic.

    Another thing, which I apologise in advance for not reading your other posts lately is whether or not you are buying the fireworms? Those are the worms which eat upwards but digs down if there are lights. This is different to the normal garden worms which dig down and disperse …?

    Good luck!

  • Mike Lieberman

    I think I might be the one that has the dumb luck as this is my third set that I'm killin. Glad that you've had success. Mind sharing some of it with me?

  • Mike Lieberman

    I went back on forth on putting them in the dark of the light. It doesn't really look good for them at this point…

  • Mike Lieberman

    That design sounds much better than mine Kaikit. I'll definitely do something like that if I start another batch. Gotta see how this one turns out first. Appreciate your comment.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Rub it in. Rub it in. Hahaha. There are no odors coming from it. The other two batches (that I killed) lasted about 2-3 weeks and then they all died off.

    These are red wriggler worms that I'm buying from a local ecology center.

    Thanks for the advice.

  • http://lifeonthebalcony.com Fern @ Life on the Balcony

    We had a lesson in worm composting last week in my master gardener class. One thing they mentioned was that if there are too many vibrations, worms will try to escape. Maybe the garbage disposal bothered them?

  • Pingback: Done With Worm Composting | Urban Organic Gardener

  • Laurie

    Here is where I got much of my info, as well as “starter” food for my worms.
    http://www.lavermesworms.com/ellen.php

  • Mike Lieberman

    Hmm, no garbage disposal, but that's where our garbage is and it gets opened and closed frequently. So maybe that could've been part of it.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks!

  • http://lifeonthebalcony.com Fern @ Life on the Balcony

    We had a lesson in worm composting last week in my master gardener class. One thing they mentioned was that if there are too many vibrations, worms will try to escape. Maybe the garbage disposal bothered them?

  • Laurie

    Here is where I got much of my info, as well as “starter” food for my worms.
    http://www.lavermesworms.com/ellen.php

  • Mike Lieberman

    Hmm, no garbage disposal, but that's where our garbage is and it gets opened and closed frequently. So maybe that could've been part of it.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks!

  • vile

    I have a worm composter and they only run out when it is too dry. Just pour in some water.

    I've also had it too wet but they just drown or stay on the top of the pile. When I dug down, half of the bucket was water (from decomposition).

  • Mike Lieberman

    I have a Worm Factory 360 now, and the worms are doing much better.

  • Debi

    Worms are like us in that they are a bit finicky about their living conditions. We don't like to be too wet or too dry and neither do they. We also don't like to be too hot or too cold and neither do they. We can handle extremes for only so long and then we try to find better living conditions. Worms will do the same. It looks like you have your bin on the floor and that your floor is possibly tile. I saw another site that had the same problem (her worms were trying to escape) and she had her bin on a tile floor as well. The worms got too cold and so they started crawling out. She put the bin in a place that was a bit warmer (but not too warm) and her worms did fine after that. They did their worm duty and composting her food just fine.

    You can keep the moisture under control with about 1 or 2 inches of tightly packed moisture-absorbent material placed in the bottom of the container and also draining off any standing liquid — try a turkey baster if necessary.

    If you have no other place to put your worm bin but the spot you've been using, I would try putting a blanket or a stack of newspapers under the bin to keep it off the floor…. just something to make it a little warmer for them.

    You also have to base the amount of food scraps you put in the bin on the amount of worms you have. They can only eat half their weight per day and if you overfeed them, then you run the risk of producing a toxic environment for them due to the rotting food. If you underfeed them though, you will run the risk of exposing them to an equally toxic situation because they will be eating their own castings, which is not healthy for them. Worms tend to stay within the top 6 inches or so of the soil making up their home. If all the food is gone, then they're living in their own excrement and eating that to keep themselves alive. That will only sustain them for just so long (like us being shipwrecked in the ocean and having to drink our own pee to survive as opposed to drinking ocean water which will drive us crazy and then kill us).

    There are a lot of variants that need to be finely tuned in vermicomposting but it would be a shame for you to give up because of a couple of mistakes. There are plenty of people that are successful at doing this. I'm sure you can be one of them. It just takes a bit of practice and keeping an eye on the worm's environment.

    Hope this helps! :)

  • Mike Lieberman

    Definitely helps Debi. I've since started to use a Worm Factory 360 and have had much more success. It's been about 3-4 months now and the worms are still alive and doin well.

    I appreciate your advice and input. You obviously have experience with this.

  • luke

    Lite on the water and feed them lettuce for 2 weeks,then start alternating with frozen mixed vegetable that have been thawed completely,then lite on the fruits.I just have alot of luck with a vegetarian diet for them hope this help's you DON'T GIVE UP YOU'LL GET IT!!AND THEN IT WILL BE FUN NOT LIKE A JOB!!

  • Mike Lieberman

    I've started using The Worm Factory 360 and have had much better success.

  • Annejones_4

    Sorry bout your worms! Mine are outside year round. They all go in the center when it’s cold. So im not sure temperature is a problem.I think your bin looked a little dry. I read it should be like a wrung out sponge. I have a commercial bin with drainage so they won’t drown. I just pitch my kitchen scraps in weekly. I don’t really use bedding. I do take the shredded documents we discard and run water over them and pitch on top. I do this infrequently. I think they don’t like being disturbed. I don’t look at them for weeks at a time. I’ve had a colony for 4 years. Don’t over think it. They don’t have brains, and they don’t “escape”. They are invertebrate, primitive worms.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Sales

    Think you should just put some drry paper on top. They won’t climb if it’s too dry for them.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks will do if I try again.

  • http://www.almostallthetruth.com/ Brenna @ Almost All The Truth

    Oh my, I was just trying to convince my husband that we need a worm bin and he feared escaping worms. I had better not show him this!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Hahaha. The good news is that they escape and pretty much die. It’s not like they are going to be chillin on the couch.

  • http://www.polishmamaontheprairie.com/ Polish Mama on the Prairie

    I was wondering if the worms escaping from the bottom of my home-made worm farm were purposeful escapees or if they were just accidentally falling out through the holes.  This makes me wonder more if I’m doing something wrong because I also found a couple of maggots in the worm farm on the same day.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    A few escapees ain’t so bad. It’s when they all flee that you have problems.

  • Monica

    My worms are escaping to the bottom tray of the worm factory…and now makes sense…they are in the laundry room….they get worm or kind of hot and there are vibrations…I will put them under a tree now to see if that helps…Thank you all for helping!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1196696978 Scott Baron Von-Düsseldorf Lic

    Do you think it could have to do with pH level of the soil? I sprayed mine with water with lime(garden lime)