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Monday, February 24, 2014

Can I Use Compost With Worms in It?

Q. I have been collecting vegetables scraps for the last 6 months for composting but did not have a cover on my bin.  I have found the compost loaded with this bug or worm.  Can I use this compost? There are too many to pick out.  I'm afraid if put in soil they will kill plants but my compost is really good!!

A. This is pretty common in compost. This question is one of the most common questions asked about composting on my blog.
            Many of these types of insects feed on decaying foods and composts that are not quite finished composting. Once the compost is finished they are seldom a problem.
            I don’t know how much compost you are talking about but if it is possible to layer out the compost the birds will come in and gobble them up.
            You can cook them in the sun and they will decompose in your compost. To do it correctly the compost must be “fluffy” or loose enough to allow the heat to spread through it evenly.
            Spread the compost in a layer several inches thick. It should be slightly moist but not wet. Cover it with a clear plastic drop cloth and hold it in place with some nails or staples. The edges of the plastic must be sealed so no heat escapes.
            Hold it in place with some rocks, blocks or bricks so it does not blow away. Leave it in direct sunlight for about two weeks. The temperature will get hot enough to kill most of the insects.
Maybe pupa of cutworm or armyworm? Pupa is the transitional stage between larva or worm and the adult. In these cases moths.

The adults are moths that you will see flying around your porch light at night. As a kid we used to call them "Miller moths". Kind of dusty, maybe an inch across. They used to fly right into the light and sometimes get "fried". When you see these moths, the eggs they laid will hatch in a few days and it is time to put down some Bt sprays or dusts on your vegetable garden.


  1. Posting for Amy....
    Hey Bob,
    The weird larvae in the last post are black soldier fly larvae...... Really big and awful looking. Sometimes Gerry like dead flesh, and yeah, are the consumers of flesh and manures. Used commercially for fast clean up of large scale waste like pig manure. They do not spread disease our contains, and while looking scary, are a fabulous digester in compost bins. Usually found in worm bins where they unfortunately out -compete the worms.
    Ran into this last year. .... an accidental but beneficial helper.
    Hope to see you around!
    Amy Z

  2. More on the soldier fly.....