How to Breed Nightcrawlers

How to Breed NightcrawlersNightcrawlers are a large and hardy breed of worms that like dark, moist conditions. They breed prolifically, with each worm laying one or two capsule-shaped eggs each week. Each of those eggs hatches around four to 20 new nightcrawlers. They can live at a very high density, which means they require very little space to grow. Nightcrawlers are less common in some areas than the common red wriggler and other types of earthworms, but they are widely appreciated as excellent bait by fishermen.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Worm container
  • Drill
  • Peat moss
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Chicken starter feed or laying mash
  • PH tester
  • Powdered limestone
Step 1
Buy or make a container for your nightcrawlers. A worm container can be made of nearly anything, but it should be opaque and have a cover. A wood, metal or plastic box or a Styrofoam cooler will work well. Make sure the container is large enough for the number of worms you want to breed. For nightcrawlers, you need 1 square foot of surface area for every 1,000 worms you intend to keep inside.
Step 2
Drill several small air holes in the sides of the container near the top.
Step 3
Soak peat moss in water overnight. Remove the peat moss, and squeeze it with your hands to wring out excess water.
Step 4
Crumble the peat moss thoroughly and toss it into the worm container until it is 6 to 8 inches deep. Stick your hand into the moss to feel the moisture. In the future you will want to keep the peat moss at the same moisture level it is right after you put it in the container.
Step 5
Add nightcrawlers to the surface of the soil. They should immediately burrow under. You can buy nightcrawlers at a local bait shop or pick them up off the ground after a rainstorm if they live in your area.
Step 6
Lightly sprinkle the surface with chicken starter feed or laying mash once the nightcrawlers have burrowed under. You can purchase chicken starter or laying mash at a feed store.
Step 7
Check in 24 hours to see if the mash is gone. If it is, add the same amount or slightly more. If it is not, do not feed the worms until they finish the food. Through trial and error, determine how much to feed the worms so that they eat all their food in 24 hours.
Step 8
Lightly sprinkle the soil with water any time the peat moss gets substantially drier than it was when you first put it in. Gently toss the bedding with your hands once every few weeks after the worms have eaten the food. This will aerate the soil.
Step 9
Test the soil with a PH meter every week or two. If the PH is below 7, sprinkle the soil with powdered limestone. This will keep the soil at a healthy acidity for the worms.
Step 10
Harvest the worms by pulling them out of the peat with your hands when there is no food visible on the surface. If there is food on the surface, wait until the worms have finished it, then harvest them and, finally, feed the worms remaining in the worm box.

Tips & Warnings

Keep the container out of direct sunlight.
Do not mix the mash into the soil. Just sprinkle it on the surface and allow the worms to feed on it.

Article Written By Isaiah David

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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