African Night Crawler
The ANC (Eudrilus Eugeniae)
African Night Crawlers are native the warm regions of West Africa, but now vermicomposters
in tropic and sub tropic climates all over the world are using them as composting and bait
Due to their voracious appetites and ability to quickly reproduce
African night crawlers are quickly gaining popularity with vermicomposters. However due to
their warm weather roots ANCs are not able to tolerate the environmental conditions that red worms and European night crawlers can handle
African Night Crawler are a distinctive mix of a grey and purple color and grow to over
twice the size of red worms, often reaching over 8 inches. If you are familiar with red worms one of the
things you will immediately notice about the ANC is how large and muscular it is compared to the redworm. You
may also be surprised at the large size of their castings.
African night crawlers are very
desirable for vermicomposting, harvesting worm castings, and
raising for bait worms. African night crawlers produce absolutely huge castings. There are some things
you need to know before you try out African night crawlers so read up on the breed here on our ANC
Advantages of African Night Crawlers
Some worm farmers feel ANCs are a high maintenance breed. However lots
of folks report that ANCs are a joy to work with and are really very happy with them. Of course the
most important thing to keep in mind is their vulnerability to the cold, which is explained in detail in
African night crawlers have lots of characteristics that make them suitable
for the worm farm. While not as tolerant to environmental changes as the European Night Crawler ANCs are still
a valuable addition to the worm bin, this is especially true in warmer climates.
It is also reported that ANCs like to crawl and explore. If your ANCs
start to escape their bin first make sure your bedding conditions are good. Then have a good tight lid on
your bins and place a light above it to keep them under the bedding.
Typical of all composting, or vermicomposting, worms ANCs come up to the
surface of their bedding to eat decomposing matter. So they thrive near the surface layer of top
soil or bedding. African night crawlers literally gobble
up decaying matter. Watching a few hundred ANCs feed on some fruit or vegetable scraps is
an amazing thing, we have simply not seen any composting worm pounce on food in this way.
The tremendous appetite of the African Night Crawler makes them ideal for the
compost bin and prolific worm casting (a.k.a. worm poop) producers; given the right
environment. ANCs get much larger than red wigglers, over 8 inches is not uncommon. True
to their size they eat a lot more than red worms and European
night crawlers. Some estimates say the African can eat nearly 1.5 times it's body weight each
Like any good composting worm African Night
Crawlers are colony dwellers being content to live in close quarters with each other. This
also ensures they reproduce quickly, another big plus for worm farmers. But like any night
crawler; if you plan on raising ANCs as bait worms they will need extra room in order to plump
up. And plump up they will; ANCs make excellent bait worms. Perhaps the greatest advantage for using the
ANC as a bait worm is the fact they need no refrigeration. Most bait night crawlers must be
refrigerated to be kept alive for any period of time; not
Africans reproduce and grow quickly. Scientific research revealed that ANCs grow more quickly than red worms. Newly hatched Africans
reach sexual maturity blindly fast, as worms go. In ideal conditions they become mature
breeders in as little as 5 weeks. African night crawlers produce an average of up to
3.5 cocoons in a week. From each cocoon typically 2 hatchlings will emerge. So in about 20 a single
African Night Crawler can produce nearly 175 offspring. Just keep in mind with any worm breed factors
such as food, temperature, and moisture levels may greatly influence reproduction rates.
While the ANC may not be very cold tolerant it does have the advantage of being
able to withstand high temperatures. African night crawlers will thrive in beds that are 70F to 85F
(21C - 29C). Researchers report that ANCs can tolerate temperatures of 90 F. However we would
not recommend letting the environment of African Night Crawlers get much higher than 90 F.
While we can't offer any definitive proof it sounds as if the ANC can start to die
off if the temperature gets much below 60F. There is some debate on this; however to play it safe at
this time we simply can not recommend putting ANCs in beds that will get down into the 50's.
But this does not mean worm farmers living in cooler climates can't raise ANCs. For those able
to house African night crawlers indoors and monitor their bedding temperatures the African night crawler
is still a good choice.
Just like all worms African night crawlers take
in oxygen through their skin, so moist bedding material helps facilitate worm
breathing. The moisture in your bins also helps
breakdown bedding and vegetative matter into a mushy matter. This is accomplished by the microbes
found naturally in worm beds. It is this liquidly mixture of decaying food and microbes that worms
African Night Crawler Food
Put ANC's in a vermicompost bin and watch your scraps of fruit and vegetables
disappear. Africans are fairly easy to feed and care for. However, remember in order to keep a
healthy worm farm there are some basic guidelines. Here we will cover what you
should feeding your ANCs, and what not to feed them. This list is not your only option, but merely a
starting point. Learn more about feeding worms here.
- Fruit Waste - Non Citrus (Apples, grapes, bananas, plums, peaches, pumpkin)
Vegetable Waste (carrots, lettuce, beans, peas, limited amounts of potatoes, leaf vegetables)
Egg shells - In moderation and best when crushed up a bit.
Coffee Grounds (Filters too) - An excellent worm food, but again in moderation
Tree leaves - Yes in moderation, stick to common species, avoid exotic tree leaves
Cardboard - Yes, shredded cardboard doubles as food and bedding.
Garden Waste - Bean stalks, pea vines, beet tops,
Starchy- Yes in moderations (Pasta, potatoes, rice, grains)
Aged animal manure - Yes, it's best to stick with horse manure in the beginning.
Commercial worm food, (Worm Chow etc...) Just start sparingly to supplement
Do Not Feed:
Cooking oil or grease
Now that you know all about African Night Crawlers find a good,
(quality), supplier and order up a couple pounds and get worm farming.
Return to the top of our African night crawler