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African Nightcrawler Question - pics added

My ANC's are slowly dying and I am not sure what is causing the problem. Looking at the diagram below I can confidently say it begins at the mouth. It's almost like some sort of stenosis begins to take place and continues to harden up to the clitellum basically causing the worm to starve to death. Of course with the hardening comes decay and and it is hideous site to see all the mites feasting on a half live worm :( I am also noticing some of the ANC's are having an issue where the clitellum constricts to nearly nothing and shows odd signs of odd polyp like adhesion. I have added some pictures - not the best - I really need to invest in a good digital camera.

My feedstock is a living manure. Basically vege green scraps I am mixing with peat (sphagnum & reed sedge). I also sprinkle a bit of worm chow and agri lime over the top. I have scoured the net trying to find some literature on such an issue but have not come up with much of a solution. Any thoughts?

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Sound like Protein Poisoning.  Do your worms look like this photo?

Sorry to hear of your problems, Michelle. I agree with Eve that it sounds like "protein poisoning", which is primarily caused by overfeeding. I suggest you start a new bin using organic compost as bedding. Transfer only healthy living worms to this new bin and feed appropriate amounts of food scraps.

Once you have removed all the healthy worms, cover the old bin contents with a thick layer of the organic compost bedding. Keep it moist, but do not add any more food. Allow cocoons to hatch before feeding again.

Hey Andrew, I don't want to derail the overall discussion, but do you have any links for the supposition that protein poisoning/string of pearls is for sure a result of overfeeding? I was under that impression as well, and it jives with my own anecdotal evidence, but every time I go looking for a definitive answer I'm stymied by the lack of information.

It's been driving me nuts trying to nail down a definitive reason for SoP. Having experienced it twice, I REALLY want to avoid ever seeing it again. 

Also check out below where the Guru says cold can do that to tropical worms (like EE).  Interesting!

@Ar-Pharazon: Yeah, I saw that. And it's part of what has prompted me to think that just about any major change in food type/amount, temperature, et al can prompt SoP based on the anecdotal evidence on this site. I don't mean to devalue that in any way; I've learned more browsing these threads than I have experimenting myself, but if I can read a scholarly article on it, that would be absolutely superb!

Hey! How did you know about my fake tanning?! I thought it looked natural!!

Sorry, Ben, no links this time. I'm just going from memory.

Yeah, her image "ANC1.jpg" above looks like classic protein poisoning to me.  My first thought would be to add a load of brown carbon bedding, but I have only a little experience with it, so I defer to your judgment, Andrew.

Protein poisoning eh? Gosh and I have been trying to be so careful too. Now perhaps temp change could be a factor as well. We have been fluctuating quite a bit in this region lately.

Could be that's just a name we give it because it happens when we feed our worms too much meat.  Speaking for myself, I don't really know what it is in detail, but we still need a name for the phenomenon.  Maybe it can happen just from too much nitrogen (sounds like you feed them a lot of greens).  Or, something else.

I do use a lot of left over lettuce, apple cores and honeydew rinds. I freeze them then mix with peat and top feed weekly. I typically only add more when it is obvious the previous feed stock has been consumed. I do sprinkle a bit of worm chow as well. I think I will stop using it to see if conditions improve. I haven't had any mass losses but usually several make their way to the surface and I pick them out as I see them.
"I haven't had any mass losses..."

Ah, that is good to hear. I mistakenly had the impression that it was more severe problem.

It's not uncommon to lose up to 10% of your worms during the first few weeks after receiving the shipment. The harvesting and shipping process can be fairly traumatic.




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