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Gnats In My Worm Bin

So I’ve been worm composting inside for a while now. I noticed that all the Red wigglers and I were happiest when I added a good balance of wet mushy left overs from the kitchen; topped with dry coffee grinds, toast crumbs, etc. topped with dead plant material mainly crushed, dried & crumbled plants from the previous year’s harvest and some of my unfortunate unattended to dead house plants.
Once I screwed up…things changed. Gnats; tiny little insects that enjoy laying larvae in damp compost loved the worm bin as much as the wigglers and I did.

Things were going well until several schedule changes in my personal life occurred. This created a domino effect on everything else that depended on me and my time. I rushed to feed the worms their sure-to-eat baby like wet and mushy worm food and ran out the door to work. I didn’t place the usual dry plant material on top of the damp food nor did I replace the newspaper on top.

Gnats welcomed this idea. They loved my schedule and moved right into the worm community. Each time I lifted the cover they’d fly out in adult form.

I learned that gnats love dampness and fungus. I realized that I cannot allow wet compost to rule the worm bin without topping it securely with the added dry plant mulch and newspaper.

It’s been pure hell trying to get rid of them but I did.

I got rid of the escapees by way of light. Flying gnats gathered on the window because it was the most lit area of the room at dusk. I’m a “sap” for living creatures. Even the annoying ones. I felt guilty but I also felt invaded & urgent. I decided to clean my window with window cleaner and wipe them and the window down with paper towel. I did this twice in one week while maintaining the dry plant material and newspaper to securely top off the worm community and have now rid them from my kitchen where my worm bin has been quiet and nonchalant since it arrived about a year ago.

So gnat’s in my worm bin have been one drawback so far to my worm composting experience. My solution wasn’t planned but it did work. However I’ll be hanging a sticky fly paper or two in the area just in case.

For even more worm composting tips and ideas to rid gnats from your worm bin check out this website. Red Worm Composting – Fungus Gnats in Worm Compost Bins It’s full of worm farming ideas, information & problem prevention techniques that may work for you.

I conclude that whatever type of compost method I choose there will always be some type of drawback. I certainly have experienced mine. Maybe scheduling a spin of the back porch tumbler that I chose not to use would have been easier. Still, I enjoy my wigglers and they do unite me every day with nature as I’m hustling out the door to catch that smoggy, crammed city bus. They provide a consistent amount of worm castings year round as well. Thank-you Red wigglers!

Do You Use Worms to Compost?

Worm Food

Here is what and how I feed my worms based on my indoor worm bin.
My Red wigglers depend on my diet for their diet. So I try to buy foods that I know are good for me and good kitchen scraps for them. We are compatible in that I’ve read not to add meats to the worm bin which I seldom eat anyway. I do enjoy dairy but I don’t share dairy products with the worms. I’ve also been warned not to add high amounts of citrus to the worm bin and so I don’t. There is a controversy over sharing egg shells. I can see the point. It would seem to “cut” very easily. Egg shells are a good slug deterrent around crops such as strawberries for this very reason. Slugs and worms do tend to have the same type of body texture and so I would agree not to add egg shells although I did once but I ground them up so small that the texture was like sand. I just simply avoid them altogether now that I’ve been alerted to the controversy.

My Personal Worm Food Ingredients:

1) Fruits & Veggies: Pretty much all vegetables & fruits, peels and cores included although I do avoid giving them bananas simply because the worm bin is in my kitchen and I just think it would invite trouble if I did. It’s just my hunch. Try it if you feel content.

2) Starches: pasta, rice, crackers, bread, cereals

3) Fiber: shredded newspaper, cardboard, egg cartons, coffee filters

4) Treats: Dry coffee grounds, tea bags (w/o staples), dead flowers and plants

I aim for a 50% Fiber – 50% Kitchen Scrap Diet
It is stated that 1 lb. of worms need at least 1/2 lb. of food daily.
I don’t measure or get too scientific. Maybe you will want to.

I chop/mince and add droplets of water to my kitchen scraps to make worm food. I read that if your worm food is mushy enough for an infant to eat then it is mushy enough for a worm to eat. The quicker the worms eat, the quicker the worms poop; and it’s true. The worms eat faster and the worms poop faster.

I add a minimum amount of kitchen scraps in slightly larger chunks so that these food particles will break down over time creating a type of worm food reserve that they can rely on in the event that I’m late feeding them.

I try to control this wet mushiness with a balance of dryness for healthy worm nutrition and worm bin environment. Worms need a bit of grit in their diet so I add dry used coffee grinds, toast crumbs, etc; even a few crumbs of dirt from time to time. I crumble up some dead plant leaves, mostly from last year’s garden, and place them on top of the wet mushy worm food to control dampness, prevent soil gnats and add even more worm food as it slowly breaks down. The worms like this.

I tuck them all in with a slightly damp newspaper, while other times I leave this newspaper dry, depending on the overall dampness that was already occurring or not in the worm community. Sometimes I add small pieces of newspaper on top of this.