European Night Crawler
The ENC (Eisenia Hortensis)
European Night Crawlers are fast becoming a favorite breed for the
worm farm. In fact some worm industry leaders predict that someday European Night Crawlers (ENC) will
become more popular than Red Worms. Euros are a great pick for
vermicomposting, using worms to compost. European Night Crawlers go by
many names. They are often called Belgian Night crawlers, ENCs, Euros, and Super Red
European Night Crawlers are dark pink
or red in color and grow to about twice the size of red worms.
Like red worms the Euro is easy to raise and reproduce quickly so
they are good pick for both first time and experienced worm farmers. Euros are pretty hardy, love table
scraps, and grow quite large. If you plan on raising bait worms the Euro is the perfect choice.
So whether it is composting, raising bait worms, producing worm castings, or
simply enjoying an eco friendly hobby it's hard to beat the European Night Crawler when it comes to
stocking your worm farm. But don't rush out and buy a bunch of ENCs without first learning more about
them. Our European Night Crawler facts page will tell you everything you need to know to raise
Advantages of European Night Crawlers
Euros possess many traits which make them perfect for worm farming.
Among the large worm breeds the ENC is the most tolerant of temperature fluctuations and
environmental changes. They definately are more hearty than the African Night Crawler. If you want to
worm farm in northern climates and want large worms the Euro is right for you.
European Night Crawlers dig deeper than red worms, however they are still
considered top feeders. In other words they thrive closer to the surface layer of top soil; close
to decomposing vegetative organic matter. Euros prefer just about any
decaying matter. Decaying leaves, grasses, wood, and animal manure are all favorites
Euros have a good appetite making them ideal for the compost bin
and nice worm casting (a.k.a. worm poop) producers. This breed gets much larger than red worms, getting
up to 7 inches long and as thick as a pencil. However despite their size
they eat a little less than their red worm cousins. Some estimates say the European Night
Crawlers eat half their body weight each day.
European Night Crawlers are also colony dwellers, they don't mind bumping into
each other in the worm bin. Close quarters living also makes them quick breeders and an ideal breed to
raise in your worm farm. Just remember, if you want to fully develop Euros
into outstanding bait worms they need plenty of room to grow large.
ENCs reproduce rapidly, but not as quick as red worms, but still fast.
New hatchlings become mature breeders in an average of about 13 weeks. European night crawlers
produce an average of a little over 1 cocoon a week. And from each cocoon an average of about
1.5 hatchlings will emerge, so that means under ideal conditions you ENC worm farm will double in
population about every three months. As with all worms factors that influence reproduction rates are food
sources, temperature, and moisture conditions.
Another big advantage of ENCs is their ability with tolerate
a broad range of temperature extremes compared to other worms. Typically Euros do best
in temperatures between 60 F and 70 F (15 C - 21 c) and can withstand temperatures from
about 45 F to 80 F (7 c - 26). When it gets below 45 F ENCs need to be protected from the
cold. It's a bit riskier to keep ENCs in outdoors in the winter as they are more cold sensitive than red worms. If
you can maintain the Euros beds above 45 F give it a try. However if you can move them indoors or to the
basement start there.
Euros also need protection from the heat. They will naturally borrow deeper
into their beds when they get warm, or worse will try to escape the bin. Keep the beds under 80 F through the use
of shade, careful watering, or experimenting with putting jugs of ice cold water buried in the bedding. If your
worm farm is small consider moving them into the basement
Like other worms European Night Crawlers breathe oxygen through
their skin. To breathe they need a moist bedding material. Worm farmers report that ENCs need a bit more
moisture than red worms. If you utilize plastic bins or a flow through worm farm your ENCs will likely be
found deeper in the bedding material where moisture collects. In shallow bins or stackable bins make sure and
closely monitor moisture conditions.
The moisture in your bins helps breakdown bedding and vegetative
matter by the microbes found naturally in worm beds. It is this liquidy mixture of decaying
food and microbes that ENCs eat.
European Night Crawler Food
Worm bins of ENCs are a great way to compost left overs, scraps of
food, garden waste, and leaves. Euros are really easy to feed. However, remember in order to
keep a healthy worm farm there are some basic guidelines. Here we
will cover what you should feeding your ENCs, 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
Do Not Feed:
Cooking oil or grease
Now that you know all about European Night Crawlers find a good,
(quality), supplier and order up a couple pounds and get worm farming.
Return to the top of our European Night Crawler page.