How to Care for Nightcrawlers

How to Care for Nightcrawlers
Nightcrawlers make ideal fish bait. If you purchase nightcrawlers in small quantities from a bait store, they usually come in a small container, with compost bedding, that you can just slip into your refrigerator. If you're purchasing in bulk, however--whether for resale or later use--or if you're paying the neighborhood kids to catch you a good stock of nightcrawlers for future use--you'll need to set up your own care system for them.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Five-gallon or larger bucket with tight-fitting lid
  • Power drill
  • 1/8 to 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Window screen
  • Peat moss
  • Commercially processed manure
  • Spray bottle
  • Lukewarm water
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Ground corn or chicken mash
  • Newspaper
Step 1
Select a five-gallon (or larger) bucket as a home for your nightcrawlers. Use a power drill and 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch bit to drill several drainage holes around the perimeter and in the middle of the bucket's bottom. Trim a piece of window screen so that it fits in the bottom of the bucket to cover the holes, then set it into place. This allows adequate drainage while keeping the worms from escaping. Place the container in a cool, shaded area with good air circulation.
Step 2
Mix one part peat moss to one part commercially processed manure. Moisten the mixture with lukewarm water until it's damp but not soaked. Fill the bucket to within a couple of inches of the top with this mixture.
Step 3
Dig a hole in the center of the compost, much as you'd scoop out a hole for a potted plant's roots. Place the worms in this hole, then backfill the hole with the compost. Layer an inch of moist, shredded newspaper over the top of the compost.
Step 4
Sprinkle or spritz water over the top of the manure to keep it thoroughly moist but not wet. After the worms have been in place for two days, feed once a day with ground corn or chicken mash. Sprinkle the food lightly across the top of the compost, then moisten it lightly with a spray bottle of water.
Step 5
Cover your container with a tight-fitting lid that has 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch air holes drilled in it. If you don't have a properly fitted lid, use window screening to cover the container so the worms cannot escape. A final option, if no window screening is available, is to leave a light on over the top of the container; because nightcrawlers are light-sensitive, this will keep them from crawling up and out of the container.
Step 6
Wait to feed the worms again until the food from the last feeding has all been consumed; overfeeding might kill your worms.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.