Vermicomposting is an excellent technique for recycling food waste while enriching your soil with vital nutrients. However, the process has its challenges.
The biggest one is contending with mites that can quickly colonize your worm bin. Their presence can hamper the production of high-quality compost, giving you enough reason to eliminate them.
The mites get attracted to your worm bin through several attractants, as we shall soon find out.
How To Identify Mites?
The mites found in a vermicompost bin are usually white and red. These feed off other organisms, such as worms, by piercing their skin and sucking out their fluids.
The mites are eight-legged and appear as dots due to their small size. However, they multiply pretty quickly— covering up decaying matter entirely.
A small population is quite usual in a healthy composting bin.
However, you want to eliminate them before their increasing population starts competing with your worms for food.
What Attracts Mites In Your Worm Bin?
Mites are attracted to your worm bin because they crave dead or dying organic matter, also called detritus. They also love overly moist conditions, and having both will attract them in droves.
Sugary fruits such as watermelons also attract mites to your worm bin.
Besides detritus and other attractants, mites can get into your worm bin through some vectors. These are mostly birds and wild animals.
Birds transfer mites through their droppings as they fly around or come around to scavenge for food.
On the other hand, wild animals and pets carry mites in their fur from one place to another, and their close presence around your worm bin will bring in these pests.
Prevention Techniques And Tips
You can use several techniques to prevent mites from invading and overrunning your worm bin. Some include:
- Maintain Appropriate Moisture Levels: Mites love environments with too much moisture. You want to keep the moisture levels in your worm bin under control. Always ensure proper airflow by leaving your worm bin uncovered from time to time.
- Additionally, avoid overwatering at all costs. To keep the moisture in check, use dry bedding materials such as straw, peat moss, or coconut coir.
- Maintain Proper Feeding: Supply enough food for the worms to feed weekly. You don’t want your worms to starve and die and become a meal for mites themselves.
- Also, collect any food remnants quickly before they start to rot.
- Do not overfeed your worms. Excess food creates a moist and moldy environment that encourages uninvited guests to your compost.
- Avoid Overpopulating Your Worm Bin: When you overpopulate your worm bin, the worms become irritated and susceptible to mite infestation. You want enough space in your bin for the worms to move freely.
How To Get Rid Of Mites In Vermicompost Bins?
Eliminating mites from your worm bin involves taking multiple steps, as discussed below.
- Replace Your Worm Bedding Entirely: If the above prevention methods fail to bear fruits, your best bet is to replace the entire worm bedding. This will be handy, especially if you intend to start a fresh composting cycle. Ensure no mites are hiding in the bin.
- Reduce the Acidity Levels in Your Worm Bin: Your worm bin is teeming with unwanted guests because of the high acidity levels. If that’s the case, eliminate them by neutralizing the pH level. Adding eggshell powder to your worm bin is a simple trick to beat the problem. Eggshell help balance the PH levels, and your worms are more likely to love them.
- Use Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle a light layer of diatomaceous earth on the bedding of your vermicompost. The naturally occurring mineral is harmful to mites, thus eliminating them.
- Introduce Predators in Your Worm Bin: You can use species of insects such as springtails and predatory mites to get rid of mites in your worm bin. You could purchase the insects from other gardens or find them within the environment.
- Use Blowtorch: As outrageous as it may sound, you can burn off mites using a blowtorch. Force them to the surface by overwatering your worm bin.
- Use baits: You can also use baits to eliminate mites in your worm bin. An option to go for is a piece of bread.
- Put a slice of plain white bread on top of the worm bin overnight. By morning, you will likely find a pile of mites on the loaf. Discard the bread and repeat the process until the mites are no more.
Your vermicomposting journey could get hampered by the persistent presence of mites. Luckily, eliminating them is possible with proper care and management.
We have outlined several tips and techniques above to eliminate the white or red mites that usually invade the worm bins. Best of luck!
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.