For anyone who is starting a worm farm, it can be difficult to figure out the balance at first to ensure that there is a continuously moist environment, worm bedding (in the form of coffee grounds, shredded paper, shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard, coconut coir, peat moss, etc.), and plenty of organic material to feed the worms.
However, sometimes, no matter how careful we are, our worm bins manage to be so inviting that other little creatures can’t help but want to join in. More often than not, worm farmers have trouble with mite populations.
There are many reasons why there may be high mite populations in your worm beds.
In short, the mite populations will be there because it is their ideal living environment.
Thankfully, white mites are not harmful to your worms as they only eat dying worms and other decaying organic matter.
That being said, large mite populations will eat the food source around them, leaving your worms with insufficient amounts of food
What Causes Mites in Worm Bin?
Mites are little bugs with eight legs and small, white bodies.
You will likely encounter mites during your time using worm beds, as they live in the same conditions as earthworm populations and feed on much of the same food.
Thankfully, most worm beds have to deal with pesky white mites that will only feed off of the organic material and dead worms, whereas red mites are more of a problem.
They are parasitic and will kill your composting worms.
However, it is essential to understand that a few mites, preferably white ones, are not dangerous for your worm beds.
In fact, these little creatures will help your worms to get rid of the food scraps.
On the other hand, you can end up with a mite problem if there are so many that they are taking most of the food from your worms.
Generally speaking, mites are more commonly found in overly moist worm beds.
This can happen by putting too many moist kitchen scraps (melon rinds, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.) and leaving wet bedding.
This can also happen by overwatering the worm bed and by not having sufficient drainage.
Are Mites in A Worm Bin Bad?
As mentioned, a small mite population in your worm bin is not always bad.
As long as they do not outweigh the worm population, you should be fine. That being said, the types of mites found in your bin will determine their safety.
Red ones are dangerous and should be removed from the bin as soon as possible.
However, white ones don’t really pose a threat. They will happily live along with your worms and will not harm them in any way directly.
If you do notice white ones feeding off of a worm or two, then the chances are that the worm was injured or dying.
Since most compost worms do not live for longer than around 1. 5 years, seeing them feeding off of a worm frequently would not be surprising.
If, on the other hand, you notice that there are too many mites and that they are not leaving enough food for your worms to live comfortably, then it will be time to start removing mites.
How Do I Get Rid of Mites in My Worm Bin?
Since mites often appear in worm bins due to excess moisture, you will need to start by addressing that.
You can start by adding dry bedding material to the worm bin to soak up some of the moisture. Remember to use something that is safe for the worms to live in such as cardboard, or chopped straw.
Mix the buffing in a few inches deep into the worm bin, so that it can absorb the moisture more evenly, and allow for good airflow.
You would also do well to provide food that it a little less moist.
Carrot peelings, peppers, apple cores, banana peels, etc., are all examples of great worm food that does not contain too much water. Avoid things like a melon rind, potato slices, etc.
However, it is essential to ensure that the worm bin remains adequate for the worms.
Do not make the bin dry to remove the mites, as it will become an inadequate environment for the worms, too.
Simply reduce the moisture content progressively.
Are the Tiny White Bugs in My Worm Bin Mites?
Mites are often found in worm bins and are indeed tiny white bugs, however, they are not the only bugs that could be living in there, and other creatures could be taking up your worm’s space.
Fruit flies are also a common problem for worm bins as they lay eggs in the compost. Fruit fly eggs turn into tiny white creatures known as maggots.
They can also come from other organisms known as soldier flies. These little creatures can live happily off of the food waste and the moist environment.
If you are concerned about the maggots and mites, start by adding fresh bedding to the bin to balance out the pH and the moisture.
Whether you are giving your worms too much food with not enough fresh bedding, too much water, or not enough air, you are bound to have a mite situation at some point.
The good news is that having maggots, white or other mites is not a sign of needing a new bin and can, in fact, be handled pretty easily.
Remember to keep your worm’s bin as ideal as possible to get those fantastic castings (worm poop) and balanced enough to keep other creatures out!