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This is an update on the discussion regarding vermicomposting Cellulose after "preprocessing" wood chips by millipedes. The millipedes that I mentioned were apparently recent arrivals from the Bahamas. Since they were non-natives and had little natural population control they were quite prolific. 

Despite being very efficient at processing decaying organic material and especially wood chips, they were only a problem due to their high population levels.

This year there is a significant population reduction as is usually the case when most non-native critters have been here for a couple of years, There are ,of course, exceptions where non native critters and plants become "invaders".

As for the vermicomposting/"preprocessing" observations, Within the wood chip pile; the millipedes were quite successful in turning the chips into millipede "poop pellets". The pellets appeared to be partially decomposed cellulose and very uniform in size (small). When moist they had the texture and odor of fresh rich soil. Water absorption was delayed apparently due  to a somewhat waxy feature of the pellets. When water was absorbed, most was rapidly lost while the pellets maintained a damp consistency for a prolonged period. The pellets continued to have a rich organic soil odor.

Native worms migrated into the wood/pellet piles and seemed to concentrate in the lower interior portion of the pile. The millipedes were distributed throughout the pile. The worms seemed to be quite happy with their circumstances and did increase in size.

The millipede reproduced at a much greater rate than the worms. I did become concerned that the millipedes were producing pellets at a rate that may have overwhelmed the ability of the worm population to process the growing mass of pellets before they dried.

There was some difficulty producing Millipede pellet "tea" due to the waxy characteristic of the pellets.

The tea was quite light in color (appeared to be very weak). Crude tests of effect of the tea on plant growth was inconclusive.

The millipede population is now greatly reduced, so I will need to rethink (maybe abandon) my project.

It was interesting.

FYI The common name associated with the millipede is "Yellow Banded Millipede" the are about 2 inches in length, black with yellow bands between body segments. There seems to be a reddish phase during the reproductive period.

JB

 

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