Escaping Worms

Until recently I didn’t believe this problem existed. Everything I’ve seen and read suggested that worms love their bin, it’s moist, dark, cool, and has food. Coming out of the bin into the open is suicide for worms, the light and dry conditions alone means they won’t last long.

So when my sister started a worm compost a little while back and told me her worms were trying to escape I was in disbelief. They weren’t making it out of the bin but she often found them climbing up the sides when she opened it.

We had numerous Skype calls with her putting the webcam up to the compost, me asking questions like:

  • Are there enough air holes or is anything covering air holes?
  • Is the bin too wet or maybe too dry?
  • Did you put anything that could be toxic in the bin?
  • Does the bin smell sour, could it be too acidic?
  • Is the bin too hot or cold?

The last question helped us solve the problem. She said that her bin was pretty hot and that when she opened it it was noticeably warmer than the room temperature and she lives in Houston so that’s pretty warm. I thought that was strange, worms prefer slightly cooler temperatures than humans so your bin shouldn’t be hotter than the room.

  • How many worms did you put in the bin?

She told me she ordered 2lbs of worms because that’s what the site suggested for her household size of 4. But her bin was half the size of my bin which started with just 1/2lb of worms.

There were so many worms in her bin that the worms were trying to escape. Once your bin gets going, the worms tend to regulate themselves so overcrowding isn’t really a concern. They don’t tend to reproduce if there’s not enough room or food but if you add in too many from the start they may try to escape.

In general, no matter how bad it gets, worms generally tend to prefer their bin but if you do see worms along the sides of your bin, ask yourself the questions above and chances are something about the conditions of the bin are not ideal.


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