Do Worms Eat Seeds? (Garden & Composting Earthworms)

Worm composting is seen as one of the best ways of dealing with food waste, and thankfully, more and more people are realizing just how beneficial earthworms are in the soil. But what about seeds – do worms even enjoy eating them?

That being said, there has also been some recent uncertainty regarding what earthworms feed on, as it would appear that there is a slight exception to their diet rule.

Mostly know for eating dead and decomposing materials, it would appear that earthworms can eat some live plant material.

Yes, worms do eat nitrogen-rich seeds – but whether they’re good for them and your soil is a bit of a complex matter.

Do compost worms eat seeds? 

Yes, red wiggler worms do eat seeds. They seem to like nitrogen-rich food mostly and will opt for legume seeds and will not swallow plant seeds.

The ones that are particularly rich in nitrogen are slow germinating seeds. 

However, it is essential to note that it may take some time for your composting worms to make their way through the seeds.

They will, therefore, most likely have time to grow and can quickly overrun your vermicomposting system!

With that in mind, it is always best to monitor the number of seeds that you put into the bin. 

As you may know, earthworms are said only to eat organic decaying matter.

They need the nutrients that they can get from food scraps like decaying:

  • fruit (apple cores, for example)
  • vegetables
  • dead plants

and for those in a worm bin, they will need nourishing bedding. Materials and foods that make good worm bedding include:

or kitchen waste like:

They then turn all of this organic waste into worm castings which in turn plays a fundamental role in growing healthy plants. 

Seeds, as it turns out, can make a further positive impact on your worms and their soil.

Are worms bad for seeds? 

Dr. Nico Eisenhauer made a discovery studying earthworms that was later published in the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry.

It was confirmed that earthworms eat legume seeds and certain plant seeds, making them confirmed seedling predators. 

As you can imagine, this can make them quite the threat for some agricultural fields. 

In previous studies, it was discovered that worms play an essential role in nutrient cycling.

It was believed that the worms only ate decaying organic matter from dead plants, fruit, vegetables, animals, manure, mulch, etc.

This would then create the worm castings that fed the living plants. 

do worms eat seeds blog post image

As worms seemed to be so efficient in taking the food, animal, and plant waste and turning it into something beneficial, the idea of having a worm bin to make compost became increasingly popular. 

However, the discovery made by Dr. Eisenhauer has been crucial in the better understanding of how earthworms function.

It would instead appear that invasive earthworms can be quite a big problem for legume fields and other agricultural endeavors.

Although the anecic earthworm will eat the decaying matter in the soil, which will benefit the earth, it could also destroy legume seed crops in a few weeks as it makes its way through the field. 

Are earthworms good for seeds and seedlings?

The question about whether or not earthworms are good for seeds and seedlings is a little complicated. 

On the one hand, earthworms create castings that nourish the soil in which the seeds and seedlings are planted, thereby feeding them and helping them grow.

Worm castings are not only full of nutrients; they also help the soil to retain moisture and therefore help the plant stay hydrated at all times. 

A worm that inhabits soils will also help to keep the soil aerated by creating tunnels as they move through it. 

On the other hand, depending on the seeds and seedlings that you have planted, the worms could be more damaging than helpful to your seeds.

Although along the journey they will feed the soil and make it richer, they will also destroy what is in it. 

Again, this greatly depends on the seeds or seedlings that you have planted and whether or not they are beneficial to the worms. 

Can you put seeds in a worm farm?

If you commonly collect seeds and have some lying around, then yes, you can feed them to your red wigglers or lumbricus terrestris worms (or whichever worms you use to compost with!).

They will be very beneficial to their diet, are relatively cheap to buy from any grocery store, and will keep your red wrigglers happy. 

Of course, as is the case with fruit, veggies, and other foodstuffs that you might put into your bin, you must do so with caution. 

Worms need a balanced diet, so give them the seeds with other food to mix in, and make sure that there is not too much of one of the other. 

It is also important to remember that your seeds will likely grow in rich soil and damp environments.

This is not a problem as your worms will make their way through them; however, you will not want too many plants growing in there, so be sure to monitor the growth in the bin. 

Do worms eat seedlings? 

Yes, worms do eat seedlings. 

Whereas seeds are easily identifiable by being small shells, in which lays an embryonic plant, a seedling is basically a seed that has started to sprout.

As it happens, an earthworm will happily eat a seed and a seedling, a few days into its life. Both are still rich in nitrogen and attract the worm. 

Do worms eat live roots?

Thankfully, although worms do eat seeds and seedlings, it does not seem as though they eat live roots.

The standard theory remains that earthworms are incredibly beneficial to live plants through their roots.

As was previously mentioned, the earthworms tunnel through the soil, inadvertently creating better aeration for the roots specifically.

Moreover, the castings that they leave will nourish the plants and help them to retain moisture through the roots. 

However, any dead plant, or decaying root, will be consumed by the earthworm. 

For more information about what worms eat and how they impact our plants, check out our article: Do worms eat roots? 

Final Thoughts

Seeds and seedlings aren’t really the first thing you, or even worms, think about eating but they most certainly can and do eat seeds and seedlings as confirmed in some studies.

It wouldn’t be the first choice food you feed your earthworms in a worm bin or farm, but if you have any seeds that you need getting rid of, your worms will do the job and be rewarded with nitrogen-rich meal.