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How Did Perionyx excavatus Appear in My Beds? E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 11 September 2005

by Kelly Slocum

This worm species is naturalized to the southern US. Any worm system in soil contact or that is fed material that has been in soil contact in areas where P. excavatus is common is likely to innoculate their system with this worm species. If conditions in the bed and/or system management are favorable to P. excatus there is the potential for them to outcompete E. fetida. Their breeding and growth rate far exceeds even that of our little redworms!

The reality is that few worm systems are supporting just one worm species. Virtually all worm bins that are using E. fetida worms, for instance, support significant numbers of a different species called Eisenia andreii. The two worm species can only be distinguished from one another by molecular investigation, however. There is no way for we common folk to tell the difference, and it's not important that we do in this case since the two species perform and behave virtually identically. The point is simply that few if any worm beds are truly pure cultures of just one worm species.

If your worm sales are to local folks who want to use them for vermicomposting barnyard waste then having P. excavatus in your culture is irrelevent. They do the same thing in the natural environment that E. fetida does, and are, clearly, well adapted to your area. Further, chances are these worms are going to get into the system being used by the person who buys their worms from you, so taking extra steps to keep P. exavatus out of your beds would be a lot of work for no return.

If you intend to ship worms around the country, however, you will want to try to keep P. excavatus out of the system. This is done by keeping your beds away from the soil and either choosing feedstocks that have not been in soil contact or hot composting the feedstock to destroy any worm eggs that might be present before feeding it to your worm beds.

Getting P. excavatus out our an existing mixed culture bed is a bit of a challenge, as you guessed. It might be best to simply begin specialized E. fetida beds on their own, and rebuild your population using careful management that prevents P. excavatus contamination.

Perionyx excavatus is not a "nuisance worm" as some have suggested, but it is a more temperatmental species than our delightfully tolerant E. fetidas. The problem is not with the worms, but with our understanding of worm system management in varying environments.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 October 2005 )
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