Do Worms Eat Orange Peels? (And Can They Eat Orange Flesh?)

When it comes to feeding the worms in a worm bin and/or vermicomposting system, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Any responsible worm farmer will take the time to do as much research as possible in order to best take care of their wigglers (or your composting worm of choice). Of course, that involves doing some intensive research on what exactly they’re likely to eat and what’s good for them…and what’s not.

  • What about orange peels?
  • Can worms eat citrus?
  • Are all citrus fruits bad for them?

Let’s take it step by step.

Yes, worms can technically eat citrus fruits including orange peels. But all citrus fruits must be fed to the worms with extreme caution and is generally not advised, especially for beginners. It will not kill your worms to eat your orange peels, if you know what you’re doing. But they can if you don’t!

We’ve seen many sources out there that might disagree that citrus can be fed to worms. We agree that it is to be avoided for most worm farmers.

The bottom line is, it’s generally a good idea that worms avoid too many acidic foods of any kind – but providing you are careful, this may be a good tasty treat for the compost pile.

Don’t try to feed earthworms orange peels or citrus fruits if you’re a beginner!

So – let’s take a closer look at orange peels, your worms, and what you can expect in the long run.

Can worms eat oranges flesh?

Yes, worms can eat orange flesh. However, you need to be careful adding it to your compost pile.

As you will already most likely realise, worms like to eat any organic decaying matter.

They do in fact offer a great way of dealing with all kinds of kitchen waste such as banana peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, etc.

Even materials from around the garden can be dealt with by these incredible little creatures.

So, if worms can eat oranges, then why do so many sources say that they shouldn’t? 

Well, that’s because, as with all things that you feed to your worms, orange peels should be fed to them carefully. Especially carefully with orange peels and flesh.

Indeed, when it comes to any citrus fruit, you will have to place them into your worm bin with extreme caution, more so than with other kinds of food. 

Why? it all boils down to the citric acid that is found in citrus, including oranges.

In order for compost worms to live and thrive comfortably, they need to be in a pH neutral environment.

Too much citric acid in a worm farm or vermicomposting system will contaminate the bedding in which they live, therefore being harmful to the composting worms and even potentially deadly.

In nature, worms will easily leave an environment that is not suitable for them but obviously, being trapped in a bin, they will usually have nowhere to go if it’s a closed or high bin, and this will greatly disturb and again, potentially kill them. 

The best way to avoid any permanent damage is by feeding them the orange peels in moderation AND keeping a close eye on the pH of your bin at all times.

We’d suggest not feeding them oranges at all if you’re a beginner. There is plenty of safer food for them to go through before you try orange flesh or peel.

Either way, your worms will happily make their way through them. So technically, they can almost always eat whatever food you throw at them once it is decomposing.

But it’s up to you to be the responsible parent and give them a healthy diet.

A great way of helping your worms out with the orange peels would be to also put them in one side of the bin and leaving plenty of room on the other side for them to have an area in which they can go, should they find the orange to be too much for them. 

Do worms eat citrus peels?

Yes, worms eat citrus peels – but again, the same rules apply as orange peels.

You will be happy to know that the rules that apply to the orange peels generally apply to all kinds of citrus peels.

From lemons and limes, to grapefruits and pomelo, as long as you treat your worm bin with caution, your worms will absolutely love these additions.

However, citrus cannot become one of their daily food sources and you will notice the adverse effects very quickly if the bin gets too acidic as a result.

That is why it is always best to provide the peels bit by tiny bit to the worms – especially with fruits such as pomelos – moderation is key!

These fruits are quite a bit bigger than your average lemon and have a far thicker skin.

It will take longer for the peels to decompose and will therefore be in the worm bin for longer. 

A good way of avoiding any issue would be to keep a citrus container in your kitchen, in which you can keep the citrus peels for as long as you need.

Keep a container with a lid, so as to avoid any fruit flies.

You will be able to go to the container every now and then to retrieve some extra special citrus peels for your worms and they will be all the merrier for your care and attention, without getting citrus overload.

Can Worms Eat Citrus Fruits and is it Good For Them?

It is such a shame to think that an orange that has gone bad or a lemon that was left out for too long should just be thrown away to end up in a landfill.

Sadly, many worm composting websites and books will tell you that this is the only option.

Citrus fruits are just as natural as any other fruits and have their part to play in our eco-system. 

More and more people are beginning to use worm bins and vermicomposting systems to reduce their household rubbish by dealing with their natural food scraps that way. 

If you yourself have one of these worm farms or bins, or are considering getting one, then you will be happy to know that worms like and do indeed eat citrus foods. 

Citrus foods are full of vitamins and nutrients that we know are largely good for us but the same caution is advised. WATCH YOUR COMPOST BINS ACIDITY!

You will notice that, should you prepare the foodstuff properly, that your worms will provide just as healthy worm castings (i.e. worm poop), as they would with any other kind of natural decaying matter.

They should only eat these kinds of foodstuff in moderation, so small pieces, every now and then. 

Another great thing that you could do to help the worms with this kind of food would be to add extra bedding, specifically egg shells.

Finely, ground-down egg shells can do a great job of balancing out the pH level in the worm bin, making it more neutral and therefore a healthier environment for your little friends.

Avoid providing other water filled foodstuffs at the same time as the citrus foods, too.

They are indeed very watery inside and could cause harm to the worms if the worm bin/vermicomposting system becomes too wet! (Moisture is another thing you should always measure)

Remember that they breathe through their skin and will need a very balanced environment. 


Hopefully, this article will help you handle your citrus waste in an eco-friendly and animal-friendly way.

There is no need to throw away the things that can be used alternatively – and what better way of dealing with our food waste, than by turning it into worm food, which then becomes compost to feed our future food and vegetation? 

Just be very careful of your composting bins pH level. If it gets too acidic as a result of citrus, your worms may be in trouble.

We wouldn’t recommend this for beginners or until you’re completely comfortable with how your worms will react.