Do Worms Eat Bacteria?

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A worm’s diet is quite diverse. As you may know, they will eat nearly any organic decaying matter which will include bacteria.

The matter can come from dead leaves, dead roots, your kitchen scraps ( such as banana peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, fruits and vegetables that have gone bad, etc ). The food has to be well along the decaying process in order for the worms to eat it.

Yes, worms feed on bacteria that is found in the soil, either in nature, or in your worm bin. Worms like red wigglers do not have teeth like we do, but they do eat through their mouths.

The bacteria comes from the decomposing natural matter on the surface or within the soil, i.e. what stems from the dead roots and kitchen scraps. Bacteria is common in worm composting bins. Just as well, then, that composting worms can and will consume it all.

Do worms eat food or the bacteria inside?

The truth is that this is a very either/or question and the answer isn’t that straight forward. Composting worms will eat both food and bacteria, among other things.

The red wiggler community in your worm composting bin, for example, will consume basically everything that is in that bin, except for their own castings, which happen to be poisonous to them. 

One of the main reasons that having healthy bedding for your worms, is in fact, because they consume that, too.

It is important to know that worms need an environment that will absorb the moisture of the foodstuffs well.

They need the moisture in order to keep the worms’ habitat damp, which is essential for their survival.

It also needs to be soft for them to be able to move easily across it as well as something that can provide good aeration to the worm bin.

And finally, yes, it also has to be something that they can indeed feast upon, should they so choose. Good bedding materials include ( but are not limited to ): 

  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard 
  • Coconut coir
  • Animal manure

Composting Worm Food: Some Quick Points 

Aside from their bedding, the worms do also eat actual food. As long as it is in the stages of decomposition, the worms will consume it. As you can imagine, everything you feed the worms is likely to contain bacteria. That’s on its surface area as well as inside. A regular worm isn’t really going to care!

They do not feed on anything that is alive and thriving, so basically, as soon as the fruits or vegetables leave the trees/plants, they’re on their way to being eaten by a worm.

Worms will find it more or less easy to eat through the food scraps, depending on how they are presented to them.

Naturally, the fruit will take longer to decompose and therefore take longer to be edible for the worms.

That is why, if you are composting in your household, it is always wise to slice up your food waste, or even blend it whenever possible, in order to promote the decaying and make the food far more accessible to the worms.

By doing so, you will also create an environment that is less encumbered by one huge mass, making the air flow, the moisture and the passages better for the worms. 

earthworm looking at bacteria

There’s Always Bacteria in Your Worm Bin

And now, back to the bacteria. Worms do indeed eat the bacteria that is found within the dirt and compost that they are helping to create.

The bacteria stems from the decaying organic matter. They will eat all kinds of bacteria and fungi that can be found within everything from the fruits and vegetables, to the manure.

It is in fact those very bacteria that are full of what nourishes the worms the most. 

Of course, as was previously mentioned, they eat all kinds of organic matter.

The variety in what they consume is what creates those strong and useful worm castings (worm poop) which enrich your compost and the dirt. 

You really don’t have to worry about bacteria in the food you give to composting worms in your bin.

In many cases, it’s really good for them! Microbes will barely do a thing – in fact, the average worm will love feeding on micro-organisms. It’s all part of the joy of vermicomposting.

Need to know more about the material you can and can’t feed a worm? Add banana peels, crushed eggshells and more – put a variety of food into your garden composter.