Do Worms Eat Cardboard?

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Having a worm bin or a vermicomposting system is a great way of reducing the waste that we send away to landfills.

Most of our organic waste can be dealt with by composting worms, simply by keeping them in a healthy environment with a recurring and good food source.

Win-win! Nowadays, a big part of our waste comes from all of the cardboard boxes we receive from our online orders. 

That’s why it is important to know that yes, worms do eat cardboard. Yes – corrugated cardboard, too!

Worms love munching through card, meaning now’s the time to cut down on waste and fill up that bin with all your card for recycling.

Why do Worms Like Brown Cardboard?

Cardboard does indeed seem to be among the favoured things that you could give to the composting worms in your worm bins.

So, why do they like cardboard so much? There are of course a few reasons as to why a worm would choose cardboard over other materials to spend time in.

  • First of all, cardboard makes great bedding for worms. The worm bedding needs to be damp at all times, in order for them to be able to properly breathe ( as they breathe through their skin ).
  • Thankfully, cardboard is great at retaining moisture, keeping the environment damp in the worm bin, just as they need it.
  • Cardboard, especially when wet, also becomes very soft to the touch, making it easy for them to move across and within. Due to their fragile skin, a soft bedding is simply essential.
  • Any sharp or rough material runs the risk of cutting or harming the worms in another way. They also like bedding areas that they can curl up in.

You may have already noticed a group of worms curling up inside an avocado skin. Well, cardboard is great for that very same reason. Thicker layers of cardboard could have small passages and tunnels for them to pass through.

Is Cardboard Safe for a Worm to Eat?

Yes. Whether it’s toilet paper tubes, cereal boxes, you name it – if your cardboard is cut into smaller pieces, then it’s safe for your worms.

Although, yes, it has been processed by man, cardboard is made from trees and still decomposes relatively easily.

Worms’ bedding materials have to be edible – as they do eat it regularly. Cardboard is perfectly fine for the small creatures to eat.

In fact, it contains cellulose, which is a wonderful thing to have in the worm castings (i.e. worm poop), as it will later nourish your plants. 

It is important to prepare the cardboard properly, however, before you offer it to your worm farm.

You must provide them with shredded cardboard which can be spread out throughout the bin. That way, the circulation for the worms within the bin becomes easier and so too does the air flow.

worms and cardboard looking at each other graphics

Can worms eat coloured cardboard?

Not all cardboard is good for your worms. Coloured cardboard, depending on how it has been coloured, is usually safe.

That is to say, that cardboard with small amounts of writing or drawing on it, that have been printed in ink, should be OK.

Just like most newspaper ink nowadays, the ink is quite safe and can be consumed by wigglers without having to worry about any adverse effects.

That being said, do remember to take any stickers off that are on the cardboard, especially if it is one that has been sent to you.

There will automatically be different kinds of chemicals on the sticker paper, due to the glue, the glossiness of the paper and the ink on top.

Those extra chemicals in small amounts maybe won’t kill your worms, but it really isn’t worth running the risk, so do remember to take them off. 

Cardboard that has been treated in any other way, may not be suitable for your helpers. For example, cardboard that has been bleached white will not be suitable worm bedding for your worm bin.

The bleach within it might not be easy to spot, but it is definitely present and is very dangerous to the worms. Any bleached cardboard that you have will have to go to the recycling bin.

Can Red Wigglers Eat Cardboard and Cartons?

Red wigglers do in fact eat cardboard and cartons. In fact, you might find that the red worms in your vermicomposting system love the cardboard and cartons as bedding above all else.

It is important to remember to prepare the bedding for the little creatures.

First of all, you must remember to shred the cardboard and the cartons, to optimise air flow and render the circulation within the worm composting bin, far easier.

Looking for something more than high carbon treats for your worm farm? Think beyond recycled paper – look at our further guides on which food scraps you should give your farm! Coffee grounds, for example, are excellent additions.