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Identifying the Indian Blue Composting Worm

Vermicomposting is fun, challenging, and faster than hot composting. I compost with blues, red wigglers and European nightcrawlers.

Indian Blue Worm Identification and Care

Indian Blue Worm Identification and Care

Basic Information on Indian Blue Worms

Blue worms are typically considered some of the least desirable composting worms to use, and the reasons for this will be described further below. However, they are perfectly capable of vermicomposting and creating large amounts of castings. They are also very prolific, and will quickly populate most any bin you add them to. Indian Blues are sometimes called Malaysian blues. Their scientific name is perionyx excavatus.

Two Indian Blue Worms on 1/4 inch graph paper for scale

Two Indian Blue Worms on 1/4 inch graph paper for scale

Identification of Indian Blue Worms

Blue worms are somewhat longer than red wigglers, but thinner. They are shorter than European nightcrawlers, as seen in the comparison picture below. They are about 3 inches in length when fully grown and stretched out. Their clitellum, or saddle, is difficult to spot, and is in-line with the rest of their body, and may be lighter and color than the rest of the body. They are usually a blue to blue-purple color, with an iridescent sheen when exposed to light. This coloring is very similar to African nightcrawlers, but blues are much thinner and shorter. There isn't the obvious banding when they stretch out to move. They do not make a very good bait worm. They tend to be too thin to be able to be used for bait easily. Their rapid movement also makes them more difficult to hook.

Indian Blue Worm vs European Nightcrawler on 1/4 inch graph paper for scale

Indian Blue Worm vs European Nightcrawler on 1/4 inch graph paper for scale

Movement of Indian Blue Worms

One of the easily identifiable features of the Indian blue is how it moves. Indian blues move much more rapidly, almost frantically, compared to a red wigglers slow meandering movement. They will also sometimes flail around when disturbed, similar to the Alabama jumper, but not as readily.

Indian Blue Worm with Quarter for Scale

Indian Blue Worm with Quarter for Scale

Environment

Like most worms, a moist, but not wet environment is best. To check for this, pick up a small handful of bedding and squeeze (check for worms first). A few drops of liqiod should come out from the bedding. If a large amount of liquid comes out, consider adding more dry bedding to absorb the extra liquid. Blues are a tropical species of worm, and do not like temperatures below 70 degrees. If outside, a larger bin will enable them to stay warm during cold periods. In Florida, it does get into the 30s and 40s at times in the winter. My blue worms have survived these dips over a few days without any difficulty. If your worms do die, the cocoons left behind should hatch when the environment is more friendly to them. If you have the space, bringing them into the garage or even inside your home will benefit them.

Two Indian Blue Worms

Two Indian Blue Worms

Mass Exodus of Blue Worms

Earlier, it was mentioned that blues are considered some of the least desirable worms. The main reason that blues were previously considered some of the least desirable composting worms is that they can be picky about the environment they are in. If it gets too cold, too wet, or there is a thunderstorm, it seems like they decide to migrate to nicer pastures. I have found them clumped up at the top edge of my bin numerous times. I have also found them beneath my bin, having somehow escaped the bin itself. If you bring your worm bin inside ensure it is away from anything vibrating or spinning (like a refrigerator compressor or garbage disposal), as this can set them on a three hour tour.

Indian Blue Worm with Quarter for Scale

Indian Blue Worm with Quarter for Scale

Diet of Blues

Blue worms eat the same things that most other composting worms eat. Scraps of fruits and veggies are great, as is cardboard and newspaper. Ensure that plastic pieces and glue are removed from the cardboard when you place it in your bin. Avoid putting citrus and pineapple into your bin, as this can harm your worms. Dairy and meat can be problematic, as it can attract flies, and therefore maggots. Maggots aren't bad, per se, but they can be distasteful to see. Dairy and meat also smell horrible as they decay.

Where to Purchase Indian Blue Worms

Indian blue worms are usually less expensive to purchase compared to every other worm. However, they can sometimes be hard to find because they are less popular. Amazon and eBay will occasionally have them for sale, at usually about half the price of red wigglers. Checking craigslist is also a good source. Asking in social media may also turn up a source or two. Finally, checking a local extension office may be able to provide some, or give you sources that can provide you some worms.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.