Do Worms Eat Leaves?

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When researching what to feed the worms in a vermicomposting system or a worm bin, we usually are given a list of the kitchen scraps or food scraps that we can give to them.

Fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, grains, etc – normally make the list of things worms can eat. But we aren’t really told about the other organic things that we come across in our gardens, on our walks in the park, etc.

For example, you may find yourself, especially in the autumn with a humungous pile of leaves and simply nowhere to put them. 

Yes, worms do eat leaves. That is to say they eat dead leaves, that have fallen off of their respective trees or bushes. When worms are in the soil, a prime example of common food for them is the nutrients they get from the leaves decaying on the surface of the ground. 

Do worms eat dry leaves or wet leaves?

If you are considering putting dead leaves into your vermicomposting system, then as always it is essential to do so responsibly.

Worms need a damp environment in order to thrive and survive, as they breathe through their skin.

With that in mind, you must make sure that the leaves that you put into the bin aren’t completely dry and won’t dry out your compost. The same applies to grass clippings.

Putting them in with other fruit and vegetable mulch, such as wetter foodstuffs (melons, cucumbers, etc), is a great way of providing them with a more balanced nutrition and avoiding the creation of an environment that is too dry and harsh for them.

That being said, the leaves don’t have to be thoroughly wet to be put into the composting bin. Leaves don’t necessarily retain water very well, and once they have begun to decay, they will inevitably dry up.

A good rule of thumb is to just not dump them as a whole on top of any worm bin or vermicomposting system. Prepare them a little by tearing them up and mixing them in with the other, wetter, materials.

Do worms like leaves?

Yes, worms do like leaves.

Leaves are a very common food source for worms in the wild and in worm bins.

Anyone with a garden will know that once the autumn has rolled around, it is nearly impossible to keep up with all of the leaves that end up covering the lawn!

Of course, thankfully, worms will eat any organic materials that are not living. You will never see a worm climbing a tree or a plant to get to those tasty leaves.

They will wait until the leaf has fallen from the tree or plant, at which point it will have started its’ decaying process.

You may be thinking that you have definitely seen worms on various types of leaves, but those aren’t actually worms. They are caterpillars, despite their names.

Earthworms and red wigglers will only feed upon the foliage once it has joined them on the soil.

This can of course be seen as yet another bonus to owning a worm farm and/or bin.

The fact that the worms will happily take your rotting leaves off of your hands and use them to create food for next year’s trees, plants and flowers.

silk worms eating leaves

What type of leaves do worms eat?

Worms will eat any type of leaves.

You may find yourself wondering about certain leaves as we are told they are poisonous.

Will poison ivy harm my worms? Will feeding the leaves off of my rhubarb plants to my worms kill them?

Thankfully, there is no need to worry. Worms will eat any and all organic matter that is decaying and that includes organic matter that is harmful to us and other living creatures.

If a nettle, for example, meets our skin in one way or another, anywhere on our bodies, we are left with a terrible itching sensation and more often than not, small lumps that grow in the place that it has touched.

So as a species, generally speaking, we are not huge fans of nettles! Contrary to us though, our little friends the worms, will only benefit from them.

As is with other harmful and poisonous foliage and plants, nettles decompose into the soil and turn into a material that will not harm an earthworm upon consumption.

The worms eat the various bacteria, fungi and other materials that stem from the plants’ decaying bodies. Ergo, they are not directly eating the leaf, but rather what comes from it as it fades into the soil.

Can I put leaves in my worm farm?

Yes, you can put leaves in your worm farm.

Composting leaves in a worm farm is a great way of avoiding unnecessary waste which will otherwise inevitably make its’ way into landfill, unable to complete its life cycle from within a plastic bag.

At least you would know that the worms within your worm farm will greatly appreciate the leaves and will even turn it into something that will only enrich your land.

Of course, in order for the worms to make good use of the leaves, they should absolutely be presented to them in a manner that will be useful to them.

Of course, you don’t have to put the leaves on a silver platter or anything of the sort, but some preparation is required.

You could of course simply place the leaves on top of the worm farm and let the decaying process take care of the rest.

But in order to ensure that the leaves will not clog up the airflow within the farm and, by doing so, harm and potentially kill the worms, it is advised to simply spread the leaves throughout the farm, maybe even tearing them up into smaller pieces before doing so.

Do worms eat living plants?

Earthworms do not eat living plants, this is in fact a common misunderstanding.

Worms help with the growth of your plants thanks to their castings (worm poop) which is full of wonderful nutrients for your garden.