Raising Red Worms for Profit: Vermiculure and Bait
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Raising Red Worms for Profit: Vermiculure and Bait

Red wigglers (not the common earthworm) are excellent for vermicomposting and make an unsurpassed bait for fishing. Raising your own red worms / red wigglers can make for a tidy profit or even become your main source of income. Red wigglers are easy to raise, prolific and can be sold to fishermen, pet (as feeder stock) and bait shops. Raising red wiggler worms can become a profitable side business, a hedge against the poor economy.

Red wigglers can tolerate the higher temperatures generated and acid/pH levels of manure piles, making them easy to identify. Other worm species would not survive long under such conditions.

Earthworms or Red Wigglers. Why Red Wigglers?

Red Wigglers prefer temperatures between 55-770 F (15-250 C) but can survive under duress when temperatures occasionally dip as low as 500 F and no higher than 840 F. At these far extremes, the survival rate for red wigglers begins to drop-off.

Favored by fishermen for their extreme wriggling activity and endurance even when on the hook, red wigglers are highly favored as fish bait (even more so than common nightcrawler/earthworms) and thus, can fetch a premium price.

Native to Europe, red wigglers have been introduced (both intentionally and unintentionally) to every continent except Antarctica. Red worms are therefore common.

Smaller and more red in color than other worm species (often with notable tiger-stripes,) red wigglers are easily identifiable. Apart from their ability to thrive under conditions of higher pH, red wigglers also do well equally in normal soil conditions. A concern for environmentalists, the adaptive red worm as an invasive species is competing with and often crowding-out native worm species in many regions.

What is Vermicomposting?

Vermicomposting is the composting of organic waste (usually kitchen refuse) by worms to produce a very high quality soil. For vermicomposting, the red wiggler is well suited to life in composting bins. Unlike the common earthworm which requires a deep bin of suitable soil (minimum depth is 3-ft.,) the red wiggler can do quite well with a bin that is just 12-15 inches deep. This can be a large plastic sweater box, wooden box or galvanized metal trashcan. Aeration is important as red wigglers give off carbon dioxide. Periodic aeration of the soil and/or use of screened sides or small drilled air holes can help provide the necessary oxygenation for a healthy red wiggler farm.

Red Wigglers under these ideal conditions can consume half their weight by total volume daily in kitchen waste. That is to say, one pound of red wigglers can accept one-half pound of kitchen waste (vegetable and fruit peelings, other kitchen scraps, etc.) daily.

While red wigglers CAN tolerate and compost organic feces, only the feces herbivores should be used. The fecal waste of any meat-eating mammals (cats, dogs, humans, etc.) can contain parasites, and greases, and should never be used in vermiculture or gardening where the food is intended for human consumption.

The fecal spoors of grazing animals such as cattle, sheep and avian manure can be used without problems. Irregardless, the addition of fecal matter is not required for a healthy red wiggler vermiculture farm, but they do well and thrive when organic fecal matter is present.

Earthworm Castings as Super Potting Soil

Worm castings, -the fecal spoors produced by all worms, makes an excellent garden and potted plant supplement. Vermiculture is an environmentally safe and healthy way to reduce curbside garbage. You are recycling organic garbage, reducing the amount of disposed waste and getting something valuable back in return; super-rich organic potting potting. Harvesting worm casting-rich soil of a vermiculture farm is an easy task.

Earthworm Castings in Gardening and Houseplant Use

In an active red worm vermicuture farm and with use of a hand-held garden tool, gently rake the surface soil of your to one of end of the vermiculture bin. Leave the material raked to this end and for the next week, supply the daily food scraps only to the opposite end.

Within days, most of the red worms will have migrated towards the end where the food is and once there, will remain nearer the feeding location. After about a week of this, you can shovel-up the previously-raked casting-rich topsoil for use in your houseplants, picking out and returning any red wigglers you encounter and returning them to the worm farm. The vermiculture box benefits from the addiiton of new topsoil to replace what you have removed.

Life Cycle of Red Wigglers

Red wigglers are as prolific as they are voracious; their ability to reproduce under ideal conditions makes them superior for raising either for sale as bait or for processing kitchen waste in vermiculture.

Under optimal conditions of pH, temperature and moisture, adult red worms will produce an egg capsule about once per week or a bit more. Each egg capsule contains anywhere from two to twenty worms, which will hatch from the capsule within two to three weeks and become adults themselves within 3-months.

Several fully operating bins of red wigglers could provide you will ample stock to sell by the dozen to fishermen. Fish fanciers and homes with artificial fish ponds will buy your red wigglers. Koi and goldfish will benefit from red wigglers given them.

Red Wigglers and the Pet Food Trade

Pet stores that sell fish and reptiles might interested in buying your red wigglers in bulk, for feeding their stock and selling to customers for their pets, or for fishing.

Keepers of some meat-eating reptiles (bearded dragons, agamas, etc.) and salamanders will appreciate red wigglers as a food item for their pets and would become regular customers.

You can set your own price for each dozen of red wigglers, often for fishermen the price can be anywhere from a nickel to as much as twenty-five cents each. As a teenager, I used to pick-up night-crawlers (not red wigglers) and sold them in bulk to area bait stores and made a nice profit. You could do the same (sell in bulk for up-front profit) or, you can be the bait supplier and sell them directly for even greater profit.

Profit Selling Red Wigglers & Earthworms

Raising and selling red wigglers for profit can be quite a lucrative side business, potentially even becoming your main occupation. "Gone Fishing" for you can mean "Open for Business."

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Comments (6)

Stumbled! Great info, when I lived in Vancouver we kept them in a tub on our apartment deck for vermiculture, then we moved to the Interior of BC and they eventually "went wild" in the compost

I like the idea I researched about a galvanized trash can with hole cut in side down low, partially buried in the back yard. Add topsoil, worms and lid (secured to prevent raccoon/skunk entry) and while some worms can escape, most stay. Some even enter through the vent-holes. But they are mostly containerized, making obtaining them easier although this system is more for the vermiculture of kitchen waste & topsoil creation. I'd rather sell the surplus worms for a dollar or two per dozen...

Nice write up. My daughter and her husband are developing a worm farm. I got worm castings for Christmas! As a gardener, I loved it!

what an interesting article

Seriously considering vermiculture as an additional income source to my plant sales. Are red worms only used for fresh water fishing or can they be used for saltwater too?

Interesting topic to read about. Keep it up.