Compost worms consume 1/4 to their body weight daily. Therefore in ideal conditions 1 kg (Approx 4000) worms will process up to 1 kg of food waist/manure and extract the food to deposit a like weight in castings (worm Poo – castings).
Castings (worm Poo) provide more nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and other rich nutrients than any other product, it also provides a rich source of humus. This source of humus is extremely valuable because of the Time-Release quality of contained nutrients. Plant root systems love rich organic nutrients.
Manure worms are similar and as gregarious as Compost or Red worms. They have distinctive rings around them hence the nickname Tiger Worms.
Compost heaps generally have a mixture of both red and manure worms and basically do the same job.
Worms will not migrate or crawl away if adequate food and moisture is provided. The exception to this is leading up to and during a significant atmospheric pressure change of an impending rain. Worms sense this ahead of time and begin to migrate with the aid of wet ground to travel and spread the species.
There is not much you can do to stop this unless you contain them.
Worms are adaptable to a wide climate and soil conditions and will do well over a temperature range of 5 to 28 C.
Worms are bisexual, performing both male and female functions when mating with another worm. The process takes about 24 hours. The male cells on each worm then fertilise the female cells on the other by exchanging sperm.
Under favourable conditions, each healthy worm may produce an egg capsule every 7 to 10 days. The capsules incubate in 14 to 21 days, each hatching out from 2 to 20 worms, with an estimated average of 5 worms.
The newly hatched worm will mature to breeding age, not fully grown, in 60 to 90 days, as indicated by the formation of the Clitellum, (the thick muscular band about one third of the length of the worm from its head).
An active breeding worm with its progeny, is therefore capable of producing 1000 to 1500 worms within a 12 month span. e.g. 1000 worms x 12 months = 1,500,000 worms x (an average of 5 worms per capsule x 12 months = 1,500,000 worms!
Even in perfect conditions these numbers are impractical as Mother Nature intervenes. It does however provide you with a scope of what is possible in dealing with large volumes of organic waste.
In their natural habitat, breeding closes down or lapses in mid-Winter or in extreme Summer heat. It pays to dump a portion of lawn clippings or some other fresh, organic matter that will naturally heat up in a corner of the compost pile during the colder months. The worms will feed and breed better near this warm area.
Information on the Do’s and Dont’s in providing a productive worm population can be accessed here.