Vermicomposting, worm bin, composting with worms community and forums
They are mites, a very natural part of vermicomposting. It's rare to have a species of mites that injure the worms, although if you get a mite explosion (heaps of them on a piece of fruit or near the airholes of the bin) they will compete with the worms for food. The best way to control the population is to put watermelon rind, fruit-side down, on the surface of the bin's contents. The mites love watermelon & after a few hours you can pick up the rinds and rinse the mites off, put them back in the bin for a few hours, and so on. At some point the rinds will have only a few mites so you'll know your job is done.
Heres what the Garbage Guru said about this issue sometime back.:
"Mites. "Red mites" or "fishworm mites" frequently become a limiting factor in worm production. They are natural inhabitants of manure and similar organic materials and all worm beds contain low-level populations of mites. Several species of mites are present in most worm beds, but the most important is the earthworm mite. These brown-to-reddish mites are small, although readily visible. They are found most abundantly near the surface and edges of worm beds and around feed concentrations. They do not normally attack earthworms, but they do consume worm feed. When mite populations are high, worms will stay deep in the beds and not come to the surface to feed, resulting in poor worm-growth and reproduction.
Control. The best control for earthworm mites is proper management. High mite populations are nearly always associated with one or more of the following conditions. (1) over-watering, (2) over-feeding, or (3) feeding of wet or fleshy garbage. Bed conditions ideal for worm production are not conducive to high mite populations. Feeding schedules should be maintained so that feed is consumed in a few days, thus preventing accumulations of "soured" feed in the beds.
Worm beds with poor drainage frequently become too wet, creating conditions less favorable to worms and more favorable to mites. Watering schedules should keep the beds moist but not wet.
High mite populations are frequently associated with the feeding of garbage, and other vegetable refuse having high moisture content. Such feed should be used with discretion.
When mites start to build up, uncover the beds and expose them to the sun for a few hours. Cut down on feed and water. Till the beds and add calcium carbonate every 1 to 3 days. When mites or other insect populations build up in the beds, some growers attempt to reduce them by a heavy watering to force the pests to the surface and then burning them with a hand-held torch. However, physical or chemical removal of mites will be only temporary benefit unless bed conditions are altered to create a less-desirable environment for the mites. Chemical control of earthworm mites is suggested only as a temporary control measure until bed conditions can be altered.
There are several different specie of red mites.Supposedly it is rare to get a parasitic one.But if you don't know, it is best to reduce mite populations.I never worry about mites.If you leave lids off,it is another creature that never seems to appear.There may be a few.But i never find them in my large bin.When i had covered RMs they were all over the place."
That's all great info, thanks. I also seem to notice that mites proliferate when i add a lot of alkaline scraps to the bin. When I make sure to include coffee grounds it seems to help.
""mites proliferate when i add a lot of alkaline scraps to the bin. When I make sure to include coffee grounds it seems to help.""
Hmmm! That's the opposite of what happened in my bins. There seemed to be more mites after I added UCG. To remedy this, I added/sprinkle on them, powdered egg shells, and that seemed to help.
We do need mites in worm bins, up to a certain amount that is. This is my observation between 3 gal. breeder bins that I have. The ones with less mites takes longer for the worms to be atracted to the worm food added, compared to the bin where I can see mites are around.
If your bin is doing OK so far, I guess you've got the right mites, John e. Don't fix what ain't broke, lol.
I had tons of them when I put some avocados in the bin. The avocados acted like a magnet making it easy to rid the bin of a lot of them. Similar to the watermelon technique.
John - I wouldn't worry to much about it. Probably 95% of worm composters have them in some form. You could try slices of cantaloupe or watermelon to get rid of them as other have suggested. I used that method and it worked great.
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