Red wigglers love eating! And the perk is that they happily gobble up things we’d throw away, like our kitchen waste.
Though, just because these (tiny) big eaters replace our trash cans doesn’t mean they’ll devour anything we toss into their bin.
If you want your worms to polish off your organic wastes and make lots of nutrient-rich compost, you must stick to simple rules when planning their menu.
Here’s how to prepare meals that’ll hit the spot and get your wiggly diners wanting seconds!
What Do Red Wigglers Prefer To Eat
Red wigglers enjoy eating most fruit and vegetable scraps best. These worms are particularly fond of melon, carrot, apple, pumpkin, lettuce, and cucumber. Wigglers also have a taste for bread, pasta, used tea bags and coffee grounds, and unsweetened cereal.
Although most fruit and veggies are wigglers’ favorite foods, they’re not wild about all fresh produce, and some fruit and vegetables can even harm these worms.
Suppose your worms are on a hunger strike or not sinking their teeth into what you serve them. You need a new menu!
I’ll break down the best and worst foods for red wigglers and how (and how much) to feed them.
What are you waiting for? Dig in!
Best Food For Red Wigglers
Fresh produce might be red wigglers’ top food pick, but they can’t only eat fruit and veg scraps all day! They need a balanced diet.
So, the best food for red wigglers is a buffet of both “greens” and “browns”:
- Greens: Moist, soft, nitrogen-rich morsels like those juicy bits of fruit and veggies and coffee grounds.
- Browns: Dry, carbon-rich nibbles like strips of moistened plain cardboard and paper, tea bags, and coffee filters.
Start the worm feast with a layer of greens, then scatter a thin layer of browns, add another greens layer, and finish with some browns to hide all the deliciousness from flies. Dish up little helpings of moistened plain bread, cereal, and pasta with the greens (but go easy; these can get clumpy).
An easier idea is to dig a hole in the bedding, drop in some food scraps, then cover the hole with browns. Switch up where you bury the food each time.
Tip: Add some crushed washed eggshells to the mix for good digestion.
Extra tip: Cut food into bits smaller than an inch to speed up its breakdown.
What Can Red Wigglers Not Eat
A handful of foods are likely to make red wigglers unhappy.
Here are the top foods not to feed your worms and why:
#1: Citrus Pulp
Citrus pulp is too acidic for wigglers. In big doses, this acidic fruit can kill the worms.
#2: Onions, Garlic, And Broccoli
These foods stink as they break down, so while they might not turn wigglers’ stomachs, their stench might turn yours!
#3: Meat, Poultry, And Fish
Animal-based foods also smell horrible as they decompose. And the odor brings pests near and far.
Dairy is another stinker as it breaks down. Keep it out of your worm bin to keep it smelling pleasant.
#5: Fats And Oils
These greasy foods can coat the worms’ skin, stopping them from breathing properly. Plus, these foods attract pests.
#6: Spicy Foods
Wigglers aren’t fans of all things hot and spicy. Foods like chili peppers can irritate the worms, so keep them off the menu.
Fun fact: Red wigglers breathe through their skin.
Here’s a checklist of what to feed red wigglers and keep out of the bin:
|Best Foods For Red Wigglers||Worst Foods For Red Wigglers|
Pumpkin and squash
Moistened unsweetened cereal
Moistened plain bread
Moistened shredded plain cardboard and paper
Crushed washed eggshells
|Spicy food |
Fatty or oily food
Processed food (like packaged snacks)
Meat, chicken, and fish
How Much Do Red Wigglers Eat
A red wiggler can eat its weight in food every day. Worms with smaller appetites can get through about half their weight in food daily. (And you thought you could wolf down impressive qualities when the right all-you-can-eat deal comes your way!)
Suppose you’ve got a pound of adult worms (1 000 or so). They can devour 1/2 to 1 pound of food a day.
How Often Do You Feed Red Wigglers?
There’s no standard feeding schedule for wigglers.
Every home makes different kitchen scraps, so wigglers’ meals and how long they take to eat also differ.
The secret to timing your feeding is to keep a close eye on your worms at mealtimes. Over time, you’ll get to know your worms and their eating habits.
Start slowly by feeding your worms 1/4 to 1/2 a pound of food per pound of worms.
Then watch what they do.
Note which foods they attack first and which they avoid, and how long they take to finish their food. Only give your worms another helping once they’ve eaten everything.
As your worm population increases, you can dish up more generously. But not too generously! Scooping in too much food in one go can cause problems like overheating or stinky anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions. If foods that your worms usually gobble up are untouched after 2 to 3 weeks, you’ve likely overfed your worms.
How Long Can Red Wigglers Go Without Food
Red wigglers need constant fuel to grow, multiply, and make compost.
They should be okay without fresh food for about 3 weeks if they have a hearty meal to get through. So, you can feed your worms a little more than usual before your 2-week vacation and get home to find them alive and wriggling!
Some organic wastes have a nasty reputation in the worm composting community. Let’s see if they deserve their bad name.
Do Red Wigglers Eat Coffee Grounds?
Gritty used coffee grounds improve wigglers’ digestion, making them a healthy addition to their diet. Don’t overdo the java, though (coffee in moderation is better for you, too!).
Do Red Wigglers Eat Potato Peels
Potato peels are safe for worms, but worms don’t tend to like potato peels very much.
Alert: Don’t put whole potatoes in your worm bin, as their eyes might sprout before the worms get a chance to eat them.
Can Red Wigglers Eat Onions
Yes, in limited amounts.
It’s best to keep onions out of your worm bin to prevent the strong smell they produce as they rot.
Can Red Wigglers Eat Celery
Experiments show that worms choose celery over cabbage. But if there’s melon on offer, they’ll drop the celery and go for the sweet, juicy fruit.
Do Red Wigglers Eat Leaves
Yes! Worms will feed on and transform leaves into rich castings.
A few shredded leaves mixed with fruit and veggie scraps should go down well.
Will compost worms eat peppers?
Yes, mild peppers (such as bell peppers) can be fed to worms. But avoid giving worms hot peppers. They can be a cause of irritation.
Red wigglers’ favorite foods are bits of fruits and veggies, like apples, carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce – and they go crazy for melon! They also enjoy eating plain pasta, bread, unsweetened cereal, tea bags, coffee grounds, and shredded cardboard.
Worms are happy with the scraps, so enjoy the best bits of your fruit and veg and share the waste with your wriggly friends!