Thursday, August 7, 2014

How To Raise More Worms

Worm Egg Capsules
Discover other worm production tricks - Worm Farm Manual.

Worm Eggs

Shall we continuing our discussion on "the birds and the bees" of worms? The process by which worms fertilize their eggs and deposit them is not only fascinating, it also leads us to today's tip on how to get more eggs per capsule.  And more eggs means your worm population builds quicker.   So, all this extra knowledge on earthworm reproduction really is going to pay off.

If you'd rather just cut to the chase and get right to the Worm Tip, scroll on down to the bottom of the post. But, if you want an understanding as to why the tip works, keep reading.  You'll get to the tip eventually.

Worm Egg Production For Dummies

For such a seemingly simple creature as the earthworm, their breeding and fertilization process is a little complicated.  We've already discussed the fact that worms are hermaphrodite, each possessing both male and female "equipment".  The sperm and ova are located in separate segments at the top, or anterior, end of the worm.

During mating, each worm receives the sperm of the other through the connected clitellum (described in the last post).  This transferred sperm is then carried away by muscular contractions and stored in each worms' "seminal receptacles", where it awaits the maturation of the ova.   The fact that the ova mature at a slower rate than the sperm is why fertilization takes place at a later time, not at the actual "magic moment".

(Keep going, we're almost done.)

Once the ova begin to ripen, the egg laying process begins.  The clitellum forms a mucus ring that moves forward, passing over the segments where the ova are stored, picking up ripe ones.  The ring then moves over the seminal receptacles where the sperm is stored and picks up the sperm deposited by the worm's mate.  Fertilization now occurs in this mucus ring.

The mucus ring, filled with fertilized eggs, continues to move over the worm's head.  As it leaves the worm, each end of the ring pinches off, forming the egg capsule or cocoon.  This capsule, filled with a nutritious fluid, is then left in the bedding, usually near the top.

Increase Worm Production

These egg capsules are a greenish-yellow after being laid and turn darker as time goes by.  At time of hatching in 14-20 days, the worm capsules will appear dark brown or purple.

The size of the capsule  depends largely on the size and maturity of the worm doing the laying.  The number of eggs per capsule, however,  depends on the amount of time the ring takes to move over the worms body.

Hence: A worm that is well-fed and in loose soil is a slower, more sedate worm. The mucus ring will move slower and pick up more eggs and sperm. Which leads us to our tip of the day:

"To get more worms per worm capsule, keep your worms well-fed and in loose bedding."
How? You may be asking:

  • Have all the (nutritious) food your worms can eat, available to them all the time.  
  • "Turn" your beds (i.e. toss and stir it up) once or twice a week to keep the bedding from becoming packed down.  Change out the bedding when it gets too dense and refuses to stay loose between turnings.

Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Worm Production Resources

Discover more tips and how-to's in my Worm Farm Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide To Raising Earthworms For Fun and Profit.

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