Life Cycle of Red Wiggler Worms or Eisenia Foetida and Stages
We all know that Red Wiggler worms (Eisenia Foetida) are amongst the most favorite worm specie in worm composting and organic gardening. Let's get to know these amazing little nature's wonders a little bit more as we explore the interesting life cycle of Red Wiggler worms or Eisenia Foetida.
We will discuss the whole life cycle of these worms from Cocoon stage up to its Egg laying stage. Each stage will be briefly covered so we’ll have a better understanding of the life cycle of a Red Wiggler worm or Eisenia Foetida.
Cocoon or Egg Stage
Red Wiggler worms' cocoons are much smaller than a grain of rice, lemon-like shaped and it’s yellow-colored. The incubation period of the cocoon is about 23 days. The cocoons will gradually change its color from golden yellow to deep red; much like maroon as 4 to 6 embryonic Red Wiggler worms develop inside. Eisenia Foetida eggs will hatch at a temperature of 65 – 85 degrees.The babies will emerge at least 3-4 weeks.
Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/3409167144/
The 2nd stage is when a juvenile red wiggler worm or Eisenia Foetida turns into an adult. It takes 40-60 days for the juveniles to develop into an adult or a mature worm. It develops the genital markings clitellum. The clitellum contains their reproductive organ and can only be seen when red wigglers are ready to reproduce. The red wiggler worms or Eisenia Foetida are ready to mate when their clitellums are orange in color.
Red wiggler worms or Eisenia Foetida hatches from cocoons. Juveniles are about no more than 1/2 inch, as thick
about 4 human hairs and doesn't have any genital markings yet or the clitellum.
Once the babies hatch they will already be organic waste eating machines. Ready for Vermicomposting, Juvenile Red Wigglers picked as composting worms for worm composting bins for all soil garden enhancing purposes are as ready as adults worms!
This is the most interesting part of the Red Wiggler worms or Eisenia Foetida's life cycle. We all know that the Eisenia Foetida is a hermaphrodite which means that each worm has both female and male reproductive organs. You might be wondering how they mate? Can one Red Wiggler Composting worms just reproduce by itself? The answer is NO! A Red Wiggler worm still needs another worm to mate. As weather warms up, the worms become sexually active. Worms mate by joining their clitellums together with their heads pointing in opposite directions and exchange sperms. After copulation and long after the worms separate, each worm will secrete the eggs or their cocoons from their clitellum. Once done, the worms then back out from the narrowing cocoons and fertilization takes place. So if you see worms joined together, then you'll know they're already in this stage.
Red Wiggler Worms Activity and Life Span
Aside from their prowess's in worm composting in organic gardening, In the summer, where temperatures warms up- Eisenia Foetida worms becomes very active. Their foraging doubles and mate a lot as well. Contrary to winter season, when the worms slowdown including their metabolism to hibernate for the cold weather. Conditions that these worms hate are Acidic, Saline, dry, hot and well lit environments. When it rains, worms or Red Wiggler worms tend to emerge in the soil's surface. Some believe that this is may be due to worms can't breathe through flooded burrows forcing them to pop up the surface. When Red Wiggler worms feels threaten, they secrete a pungent slippery substance that others believe that it's a form of defense mechanism.