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Life Cycle of Red Wiggler Worms or Eisenia Foetida and stages

Updated on April 06, 2016

Joined: 7 years agoFollowers: 30Articles: 59
Red Wiggler worm(Eisenia Foetida)
Red Wiggler worm(Eisenia Foetida)

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.

Eisenia Foetida Egg
Eisenia Foetida Egg

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/

Baby Worms
Baby Worms

Juvenile Stage

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!

Adult Red Wiggler worm with prominent Clitellum
Adult Red Wiggler worm with prominent Clitellum

Mature Stage

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.

A pair Red Wiggler worms copulating
A pair Red Wiggler worms copulating

Mating Stage

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 (Eisenia Foetida)
Red Wiggler Worms (Eisenia Foetida)

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.


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    • Allen Metz 6 years ago

      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.


      allen metz


    • clwisehart profile image

      clwisehart 5 years ago


    • frankwiggler profile image

      frankwiggler 5 years ago from Spring Grove, PA

      Thanks y'all! you can all link to this hub if you like or want to help me :)

    • carla schroeder 5 years ago

      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.

    • ??? 5 years ago

      Hi this is the life cycle of a red worm very helpful!

    • Trish 4 years ago

      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

    • maitai 4 years ago

      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

    • Elaine 4 years ago

      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?

    • JC 4 years ago

      Thank you all!

    • Ramakrishnareddy 4 years ago

      nice documantry sir!!!.......

    • bjk; 3 years ago

      so what is the life expectancy?

      but good article

    • sukadik 3 years ago


    • dikasuk 3 years ago


    • dog 3 years ago


    • by'9;7;87 2 years ago


    • tink 22 months ago

      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.

    • billy bob joe 8 months ago

      hi my name is jeff

    • bob 7 months ago

      cool I like worms

    • My name is NOOOOOOOOOO 7 months ago


    • SoccerBrother 7 months ago

      The red worm life cycle is ligit!

    • your mom 7 months ago

      My name is jeff

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