Frank has been an online writer for over nine years, creating helpful articles about saving money through worm composting.
The Popular Red Wiggler
We all know that red wiggler worms (Eisenia foetida) are amongst the most popular worm species 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 its 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 the red wiggler worm.
- Cocoon or Egg Stage
- Mature Stage
- Juvenile Stage
- Mating Stage
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.
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.
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Activity and Life Span
Aside from their prowess's in worm composting in organic gardening, In the summer, where temperatures warm up, Eisenia foetida worms becomes very active. Their foraging doubles and mate a lot as well. Contrary to the 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 maybe 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.
Their life span may go as long as 4-5 years in very good conditions.
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.
David on May 05, 2020:
Great info! Thank-You very much!
????????????? on January 23, 2020:
seriously, what is the life span of a red wiggler?
kharidevermi on December 13, 2018:
like for post
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Wael Ghamian on January 14, 2018:
I understand that in winter, if the wreathed is too cold for red wiggler to survive the season, their cocoons will survive the cold and produce baby red wigglers in spring
Ben on November 29, 2017:
I have read that in perfect condition they live for 5 years
And Drewson from United States on November 06, 2017:
Very nice article! Worms are beneficial in so many ways.
mowmow on May 25, 2017:
this was very helpful
cedarwood on February 06, 2017:
thanks helps with a class project
lebinon on February 02, 2017:
This is helpful for my project
SoccerBrother on June 02, 2016:
The red worm life cycle is ligit!
My name is NOOOOOOOOOO on June 02, 2016:
bob on May 24, 2016:
cool I like worms
billy bob joe on May 09, 2016:
hi my name is jeff
tink on March 09, 2015:
hi I was looking for the life expectancy too so I can't help you there but I can tell you answer me and that you are calm posters to dry and probably a little too cool. The white worms are not little red wigglers or another type of worm in your going to want to get rid of them they can actually decimate your worm colony.I put diatomaceous earth in cups around the point where am I then meets the ground and the ants never did come back again after my first invasion again they will also decimate your colony. you may periodically also find gnats in there not really problematic just gross easiest way organically to get them up there was just like fruit on top and dispose of them as they come to the fruit. Hope that helps.
dog on December 03, 2013:
dikasuk on May 01, 2013:
sukadik on May 01, 2013:
bjk; on February 10, 2013:
so what is the life expectancy?
but good article
Ramakrishnareddy on October 12, 2012:
nice documantry sir!!!.......
BobbieSue on September 19, 2012:
I'm wondering how long it took to find a pair of worms copulating in order to photograph them?
JC on May 06, 2012:
Thank you all!
Elaine on February 18, 2012:
I am kind of obsessive about sorting through my compost to save all the eggs and baby worms. Are the tiny white wiggly worms new red wigglers or just another part of the compost life?
maitai on January 22, 2012:
thought that current thinking is that worms like to come out and and mate when it rains. i've seen worms staay alive for quite some time in straight water
Trish on January 21, 2012:
All good info but not the answer I was looking for.. I have a worm farm and I think I've killed the worms! I haven't given them any acid stuff .. I did notice ants!?
I tried all suggestions in the manual that came with the farm
??? on November 11, 2011:
Hi this is the life cycle of a red worm very helpful!
carla schroeder on September 11, 2011:
what is the life expectancy though? Do they live 8 months, a year, 3 years? I didn't see the answer in the post, maybe I just missed it.
frankwiggler (author) from Spring Grove, PA on April 08, 2011:
Thanks y'all! you can all link to this hub if you like or want to help me :)
clwisehart on February 17, 2011:
Allen Metz on September 15, 2010:
Nice article, concise and to the point. I'll look to see if you have any more regarding worms. I am just starting out. My wife has written a HUB about composting and I was interested when your HUB popped up in the search.