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Info on African Nightcrawlers (Eudrilus eugeniae aka EE)

I will be receiving a shipment of 500 African Nightcrawlers next week and have been hunting data on the 'net. As usual, information about a worm species is often unclear, inconsistent or downright inaccurate. Here's my collection of links and quotes. I've picked items that I think are accurate, but will revise the list if corrections are needed.

The biology and population dynamics of Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg) ...
by Jorge Dominguez, Clive A. Edwards and John Dominguez
• Fecundity, growth, maturation and biomass production were all significantly greater at 25°C than 15°, 20°or 30°. {25ºC = 77ºF}
• The growth of individual earthworms increased the lower the population density, but the greatest overall earthworm biomass production occurred at the highest population density.
• The greatest number of coccons per week and the number of hatchlings per cocoon were obtained at 25°C. Cocoons of E. eugeniae hatched in only 12 days at 25°C, the earthworms at these temperatures reached sexual maturity in as little as 35 days after hatching.
• Throughout its life cycle, E. eugeniae grew much more rapidly than E. fetida, in similar environmental conditions.
• The West-African nightcrawler grows well at a temperature of 75-85°F (24-29°C). Maximum weight (11 worms per ounce) occurs within 8-10 weeks. Optimal cocoon production is obtained when there are 150 adults per cubic foot.
• The nightcrawler (EE) has a uniform purple-grey sheen and the posterior segments are evenly tapered to a point. The segments of the brandling worm (EF) alternate reddish-orange and brown; the posterior segments do not taper, and the final segment is blunt.,content=678
• We raise our African Nightcrawlers in buckets, with tiny airholes drilled around the neck of the bucket.
• There are two things that will slow African Nightcrawlers down.
1. Cold temps (below 70 or so)
2. Excess water

cached article that may have been written by Bentley, March '09
"Under ideal conditions this species can process wastes very quickly and also has a very high rate of growth and reproduction. In fact, Dominguez et al. (2001) found that Eudrilus eugeniae outperformed Eisenia fetida at 25 C (77 F). This earthworm does very poorly at temperatures below 15 C (59 F), and will actually die quite quickly once temps are below 10 C (50 F)...I asked Alan Hanson, co-owner of Blue Ridge Vermiculture, about the ‘handling’ issues with ANCs and he mentioned that aside from some tendency to roam after harvesting they were generally a fairly easy-to-manage worm."

Misc. quotes:
"ANC's are extremly shy, hate any disturbance, and take about a week to settle in. They do make lovely compost - the castings are almost as big as rice grains...In my experience, when a bin gets overcrowded, some adult ANC's get the urge to escape and go nightcrawling" ~Peter Barnard

"I have been raising reds, euros, and Africans in my basement, which stays a constant 60 degrees F. The reds and Africans are going gangbusters but the Euros don't seem to be producing either castings or cocoons as quickly as either the reds or Africans. If I didn't know better, I would think the Euros were the more temperature sensitive of the three. The Africans eat their weight in food every day and the reds are running a close second. I don't think the euros even come close to half their weight. As for casting production, the Africans blow the other two varieties away." ~Bob Collinsworth
"I do like the African Night Crawlers (Eudrilus eugenia) but you do have to keep them warm and they do not like changes to their bedding, i.e.- they slow down in castings and cocoons. My favorite thing is the fact that the bigger ones (8-12") like to lay on top of the bedding and stretch out. As long as you don't disturb them, they won't immediately scurry when exposed to light. They just kind of hold their pose as if flexing muscles and to say, "Check this out!" They're just cooler (more cool??) to me. All that being said, I do nothing but keep their bin warmer through the winter than the reds. I feed them the same as the reds, they use the same bedding as the reds."
"I have EF's, ENC's, and African Nightcrawlers. The African Nightcrawlers are IMO, high maintenance. They don't respond to handling well, they get riled up easily, and don't seem to be as hardy as the EF's and the ENC's. In my experience, if the Africans want to roam, light doesn't deter them in the least. The only thing that I've found that deters them is a fan blowing directly in the bin. So of course, you have to be careful to keep the bedding moist when there's a fan blowing on it." ~gardenfanatic MO zone5b

Interview & video of a vermicomposting operation using EEs
"He took me into the large temperature-controlled room of his business, where up to 1600 3.5-gallon buckets are stacked neatly on pallets for easy rotation every two weeks. In each bucket live 250 to 275 worms that squirm around within a bedding mixture of moist black peat moss and eat a balanced meal of powdered grains and milk protein."

tips from Bruce at organicfarms
• If you kept them between 70 – 75 degress you would be fine for raising and breeding the African nightcrawler. The ideal temp would be right about 74 degrees.
• an African nightcrawler takes 5 months to reach maturity, or approximately 150 days after hatching. To reach a size of six to eight inches in length takes 8 months after hatching. Red wigglers will mature faster.
• These worms are also highly prolific however take longer to mature.
• you can raise either the African nightcrawler or European nightcrawler with food scraps, however do not expect them to devour as much as the red wiggler worms.
• Nightcrawlers usually need a little time to adjust since they do not ball up together as the red wigglers do. They are more of a wandering worm until they adjust to their new home
• Setup your bin as you would for red wigglers with one exception, make the bedding thicker. I recommend 6 to 8 inches of bedding such as shredded newspaper and cardboard.
• African nightcrawlers will eat and not only eat but devour shredded newspapers. The cardboard will take some time to break down, however after some time, they will eat this however not like the shredded newspaper.
• The African nightcrawler is probably one of the hardiest worms I deal with.
• Some worm farms and brokers sell African Nightcrawlers in counts of 600 to 1,200 per pound. These are bed run, usually very small African Nightcrawlers which are still good for composting; however do not make a very good fishing worm. We offer a 200 to 300 count per pound African Nightcrawlers. These are approximately eight month old worms which run about 6 to 7 inches in length without being stretched out.

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