Worm Farm Reviews

European Night Crawler Fact Sheet: Everything You Need to Know!

European Night crawler

Name: European Night Crawler (Dendrobaena Hortensis) 

Genus: Dendrobaena (previously Eisenia)

Physical Characteristics: Dark pink/red in color. Grow up to 7 inches. 

European Night Crawler Facts

European Night Crawlers, or ENC, are a favorite breed of composting worm for beginner and expert worm farmers. They’re hardy worms that are easy to grow and reproduce quickly. They can work their way through food scraps to produce lovely worm castings, and because of their size, they also work as nice juicy fish bait.

Like other composting worms, European Night crawlers consume vegetative organic matter. Eating up to half their body weight a day, they’ll quickly get through piles of food scraps although they tend to consume less waste than red wigglers. Like most composting worms, they prefer fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, and bedding materials like cardboard, shredded paper, and garden leaves. 

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Life Cycle of a European Night Crawler 

Like other worms, European night crawlers are hermaphrodites, which means they contain both male and female reproductive parts. It’s an interesting but confusing topic, so we’ve gone into a bit more detail on worm reproduction here.

When two European night crawlers mate, they exchange sperm and each worm produces a lemon-shaped, pale yellow cocoon that contains their eggs. These cocoons have 1-2 eggs within them, and they each take around 21 days for the baby worms to emerge. 

These baby worms will take around 3 months to become mature enough to mate, and when they do, they’ll reproduce around once a week. Euros are ideally suited to larger worm bins as they will need room to grow, but since they are colony dwellers, they don’t mind living in dense clusters.

European Night Crawlers in a worm farm

Temperature Range for European Night Crawlers

European night crawlers have an incredible tolerance to temperatures, meaning they have quite a broad range. Typically, European night crawlers can survive anywhere from 44oF to 79oF, but will thrive within a smaller range of 59oF – 70oF.

European night crawlers tend to dig a bit deeper into the soil than other species, so they can get into cooler or warmer sections of your worm farm on those more extreme days. 

Caring for European Night Crawlers

Just like for other composting worm species, pH levels and having a good bedding material are important factors to consider in your worm farm. Worms will consume their bedding material as part of their diet, so it’s important to use good quality bedding like coco-coir or shredded paper to regularly replace and replenish it. 

You should also frequently check your worm farm’s pH level. The sweet spot for European night crawlers is a neutral 7. Anything lower and you risk it becoming too acidic. In this case, you may need to sprinkle some lime or diatomaceous earth over the farm or add more carbon-based bedding material. 

Benefits of Using European Night Crawlers as Composting Worms. 

Being a more robust worm, European night crawlers are a bit more forgiving in worm farms than other species. This makes them a good option for beginners and those who live in typically colder climates.

They also tend to have a bit bigger diet than most other worms, often happily eating any decaying vegetative matter. This means you can recycle a lot of your garden and lawn scraps, as well as fruit and vegetables in your worm farm. 

To establish a worm farm, you’ll need at least 1000 worms per square foot of farm area, and of these, half should be mature enough to be able to breed. Don’t worry if you have less though, as composting worms will tend to reproduce to match the size of their environment. Given how prolific Euros are when it comes to breeding, you should have more than enough to suit the size of your farm in no time.

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