About Red Wigglers for Kids

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Red wigglers are a different type of worm than a regular earthworm.
Red wigglers are a different type of worm than a regular earthworm. (Image: Steve Baccon/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Red wigglers, also known as red worms, are the most popular composting worm in the United States. They are easy to keep at home in a purpose-built composting bin, where they munch their way through household waste like fruit and vegetable trimmings. They turn this into nutrient-rich compost to spread in the garden as a plant and vegetable food. Involve kids in the worms' care for a hands-on science project they are sure to enjoy.

Where to Keep Red Wigglers

Keep red wigglers in a compost bin or worm box. Buy one online or make one at home from an old garbage can or wooden box. Provide the worms with a comfortable bed made from things such as shredded leaves, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, straw and dried grass cuttings. Keep their bedding moist and make sure there is plenty of fresh air circulating. Avoid keeping the worms in extreme hot or cold temperatures.

What to Feed Red Wigglers

Feed red wigglers with food waste such as vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, orange and grapefruit peels, tea bags and coffee grounds. Don't give them meat or dairy products. The worms prefer feeding on decaying organic material, so they will eat older food first and leave fresher food to break down for a while. Red wigglers chomp through twice their body weight in food every day. The waste material they produce is called worm castings.

Watch and Observe

Check the temperature and moisture levels in the worm bin to keep the worms comfortable. Keep a record of their favorite foods -- oftentimes many worms are found on one particular food stuff. Look for cocoons and baby worms; you may also see worms mating. Try not to disturb them too much and remember they don't like bright light. Use a light with a red filter to keep disturbance to a minimum and enable you to watch them.

Fun Facts

Red wigglers have no eyes, but they don't like bright light; they bury down into their beds if exposed to the light, so they must have some other kind of sensors. They have mouths but no teeth. Muscles break down food in their gizzards instead. If a red worm gets accidentally cut in two, it might grow a new tail, but the tail end won't grow a new head. Red wigglers can live up to four years.

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