Worm Bin and Soldier Fly maggots

Asked March 22, 2019, 5:27 PM EDT

We have used a Worm Bin that has 4 levels of interlocking boxes for food and garden scarps that we have used for the last 15+ years when in Los Angeles. The red wigglers were happy and ate our leftovers like kings. We moved to southern Oregon several years ago and set up the worm bin last summer for our food scraps. I built a small table to keep it off the ground (like in LA) and set it outside the garage door in our side yard and got started with a small cupful of red wigglers. After about a month of feeding the bin the worms seemed fine. Then I noticed the bin got quite heavy and I saw it was full of liquid and all of the scraps were gone (?). That's when I noticed the worms were gone and replaced by a swarming pile of maggots (yeck!). We were so sad. We loved our worms. I was told these were probably Soldier Flies laying eggs in our bin. At first I thought that there was an opening in the side were they were getting in. I put the maggots in our yard for the birds and repopulated the bin with new worms. I closed this up and put gardening cloth over the bin and made quick deposits when feeding the bin. The maggots did come back for short periods but it was getting colder and maybe they died as winter came on. This batch of worms did survive. I brought the whole bin into the garage as we were not used to worms in freezing weather. I did read that 'some' people like the maggots as they devour everything like overnight, but the YUCK factor is too much for us. We loved our slow moving worms. Can the worms survive the Southern Oregon winter outside? If these are Soldier Fly maggots, how can I keep them from taking over our worm bin that worked so well for years in LA? Thank you, Philip

Jackson County Oregon composting earthworms

1 Response

I've been using a worm bin for more that 30 years. I keep it in an unheated attached garage during the winter because the worms just aren't active enough when the temperature falls below ~40 degrees F - they don't eat enough.

I keep the worms in the garage during the summer because I don't want slugs, fly larvae etc in the worm bin. Note that these other species are also eating and pooping - (same business model as the worms) - but I don't need more slugs or flies - eventually those larvae will sprout wings and take flight. Also, in Southern Oregon, temperatures can rise enough in the summer to slow worm feeding.

In your case, I'd recommend moving the worms into the garage - permanently.