How to Keep Earthworms Alive? Guide for Successful Worm Keeping

Earthworms are fascinating creatures that play a vital role in maintaining soil health and fertility. Whether you’re an avid gardener or simply want to do your part for the environment, keeping earthworms alive is a rewarding and sustainable endeavor. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best practices, tips, and techniques to ensure the well-being of these wriggly wonders. Let’s dive in and discover how to create a thriving environment for earthworms!

Choosing the Right Earthworm Species

Not all earthworm species are suitable for worm keeping, so selecting the right type is crucial. The two main types of earthworms used in vermiculture (worm farming) are:

Red Wiggler (Eisenia fetida): Red wigglers are popular composting worms. They thrive in organic-rich environments and have a voracious appetite for kitchen scraps and other compostable materials.

European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis): European nightcrawlers are larger and more robust than red wigglers. They are excellent for both composting and as fishing bait.

Table: Comparison of Red Wiggler and European Nightcrawler

CharacteristicRed WigglerEuropean Nightcrawler
Reproduction RateHighModerate
Temperature Tolerance55°F to 77°F (13°C to 25°C)50°F to 77°F (10°C to 25°C)
Feeding HabitsCompostingComposting and fishing
Soil Depth RequirementShallowDeeper burrowing
How to Keep Earthworms Alive
How to Keep Earthworms Alive

How to Keep Earthworms Alive?

Here is the step by step information to keep your earthworm alive

  1. Creating the Perfect Habitat
  2. Choosing the Right Container
  3. Feeding the Earthworms
  4. Maintaining Moisture Levels
  5. Providing Proper Ventilation
  6. Avoiding Harmful Substances
  7. Monitoring and Troubleshooting

1. Creating the Perfect Habitat

The first step in ensuring earthworms’ survival is to provide them with an optimal environment:

Habitat FactorIdeal Conditions
Soil TypeLoamy, well-draining
MoistureConsistently damp
Temperature68°F (20°C)
pH Levels6.0 to 7.0
Bedding Shreddednewspaper, aged compost, coconut coir

2. Choosing the Right Container

For small-scale worm keeping, consider using a worm bin or vermicomposting bin. These containers provide a controlled environment for earthworms to thrive.

3. Feeding the Earthworms

Proper nutrition is vital for the well-being of earthworms:

Feed them kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells.

Avoid feeding them meat, dairy, oily foods, and pet waste.

Balance their diet with a mix of “green” nitrogen-rich materials (e.g., kitchen scraps) and “brown” carbon-rich materials (e.g., shredded paper).

4. Maintaining Moisture Levels

Maintain consistent moisture levels in the bedding to ensure the earthworms’ skin stays moist. Spray water if the bedding becomes dry but avoid waterlogging.

5. Providing Proper Ventilation

Earthworms require oxygen to survive, so ensure proper ventilation in the worm bin by poking small holes in the lid.

6. Avoiding Harmful Substances

Keep the worm bin away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Also, avoid adding chemicals like pesticides or herbicides to the bin, as these can harm the earthworms.

7. Monitoring and Troubleshooting

Regularly check the worm bin for any issues:

If the bedding becomes too acidic, add crushed eggshells or agricultural lime to raise the pH.

If the bin smells bad, it may be too wet or have too much food. Adjust the moisture and feeding accordingly.

Read more about – How long do earthworms live in a container?

Feeding and Maintaining Your Worms

Maintaining a well-balanced diet for your earthworms is vital for their survival and reproduction. Here are some do’s and don’ts of feeding and maintaining your worm bin:


  • Feed in Moderation: Provide small amounts of food regularly. Worms can eat approximately half their weight in food daily.
  • Add Diverse Food Sources: Offer a variety of kitchen scraps to ensure a balanced diet for your worms.
  • Monitor Moisture Levels: Keep the bedding moist but not soggy. Spray water as needed.
  • Harvest Worm Castings: Periodically remove the worm castings to make space for fresh bedding and to collect nutrient-rich vermicompost.


  • Overfeed: Avoid overloading the bin with excess food, which can lead to odor and pest problems.
  • Use Harmful Substances: Avoid adding pesticides, herbicides, or any toxic substances to the worm bin.
  • Disturb the Worms Unnecessarily: Earthworms are sensitive to light and vibrations, so limit disturbances to their environment.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite your best efforts, you may encounter some challenges while keeping earthworms. Here’s how to troubleshoot common issues:

  • Foul Odor: If your worm bin emits a foul smell, it could be due to overfeeding or excess moisture. Adjust the feeding and bedding accordingly.
  • Fruit Flies and Pests: Fruit flies are attracted to decaying food. Bury new food scraps under the bedding to deter them. If pests persist, stop adding food for a few days and focus on maintaining the bin.
  • Escapees: If worms try to escape, it could be a sign of unfavorable conditions. Check the moisture and temperature levels and make adjustments as needed.

Key Takeaway

Keeping earthworms alive and thriving is a rewarding and environmentally beneficial endeavor. By understanding their importance, choosing the right worm species, creating a suitable habitat, and providing proper care, you can foster a healthy worm population that will enrich your soil and contribute to a sustainable ecosystem.

Remember, earthworms are nature’s helpers, and with a little effort, you can make a significant positive impact on your garden and the environment as a whole. So, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and let these fantastic creatures work their magic in your worm bin! Happy worm keeping!

How do you keep earthworms alive at home?

To keep earthworms alive at home, create a suitable habitat for them. Use a container like a plastic bin or wooden box with drainage holes. Add moist bedding, such as shredded newspaper or coconut coir, and provide kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels as food. Keep the worms in a dark, cool place and maintain the moisture level by spraying water when needed.

How do you keep worms alive after catching them?

After catching worms, transfer them to a container with damp soil or bedding. Ensure the container has good ventilation and cover it with a damp cloth or lid to keep the worms moist. Provide them with small amounts of food, like vegetable scraps, and store the container in a cool, dark place.

How to keep earthworms alive in a container?

Earthworms can live in a container for several weeks to a few months, depending on the conditions and care provided. With proper food, moisture, and temperature, they can stay healthy for an extended period.

How to keep earthworms alive for fishing?

To keep earthworms alive for fishing, use a container with damp soil or worm bedding. Add a small amount of vegetable scraps for food. Store the container in a cool and shaded place, like a basement or a cooler with ice packs, to maintain the worms’ freshness and vitality until you’re ready to use them as bait.

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