Why Are There Maggots in My Vermicomposting Bin & Is It Good or Bad?

If you’re interested in composting indoors, there’s a good chance you’ve considered building a worm farm.

Vermi farms, also known as vermicomposting bins, are a great way for you to make nutrient-rich compost that can be used in your garden—without requiring a lot of outdoor space.

In fact, you can place a vermicomposting bin under your kitchen sink in a space as small as a cupboard!

However, when you start noticing insects in the vermicomposting bin, you may be wondering where you went wrong—and whether these obnoxious, scaly invaders are something to be concerned about.

Fortunately, insects are not the kiss of death in a worm compost bin. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Vermi Composting?

Vermicompost is a method of composting that takes advantage of the natural decomposition process. Like regular composting, it involves making a pile of kitchen scraps, compost and other biodegradable items. Over time, the mixture breaks down into rich, fertile soil that can be used as a garden substrate or amendment.

The difference between regular composting and vermicomposting is simple. With typical compost, microbes, fungi, bacteria, and other small microorganisms do all the heavy lifting. They serve to make the organic matter in the pile useful.

With vermicomposting, it is the insects that do all the work. It combines all the activities of micro and macroorganisms to reduce the amount of waste your home generates while producing healthier soil.

It’s not just any kind of worms that work in the vermicomposting bin. Typically, special insects known as red wigglers are used. These insects are highly skilled when it comes to food – they break down all manner of waste from shredded paper to eggshells, coffee grounds to cucumber peels.

Once they finish eating, you will have worm castings that can feed on your garden. Insects reproduce themselves so you really only need to buy worms for your bin once – they will reproduce in a assisted cycle of decomposition.

What Causes Maggots in the Vermicomposting Bin?

Why Are There Maggots in My Vermicomposting Bin & Is It Good or Bad?

There are several culprits behind why there may be worms in the vermicomposting bin. Nine times out of 10, it’s related to too much moisture.

However, it is important to address the fact that there are many organisms – not just red wiggler worms – that go into a healthy composting system. In order to destroy food waste, all kinds of organisms need to be involved in it.

Most of the so-called “pests” in the vermicomposting bins are just a part of the decomposition process (yes, sometimes those weird fruit flies you see hanging around too!)

If you have your vermicomposting bin indoors, there is little chance of maggots getting into it, unless you have aeration holes that are large enough for house flies to get inside. In rare cases, house flies can lay their eggs in your bin, resulting in maggots.

As for the outer compartment, Black Soldier fly larvae are extremely common. These insects feed on decaying matter, making your composting bin the perfect environment.

Believe it or not, black soldier fly larvae are actually helpful most of the time. These creatures help break down food and other waste, completing the job your red wigglers are doing.

As black soldier flies eat the larvae, they release chemicals that may help prevent other flies from laying their eggs. They are good pests to be around! Once they become adults, the flies only live for about a week and do not bite or sting. There is nothing wrong with having them.

how to get rid of maggots

Why Are There Maggots in My Vermicomposting Bin & Is It Good or Bad?

As I mentioned, black soldier fly larvae are generally not harmful in the vermicomposting bin. However, if you decide that you absolutely can’t bear to have them around, you can take some steps to drive them out.

1. Install a Fantastic Screen

It is also a preventative measure that works well at getting rid of black soldier fly larvae and keeping adult flies out. Attach some finer screens to the air holes – the better, the better. These should be mounted over the bin’s air holes so that air can make its way into the bin, but the flies cannot.

Make sure any gaps around the bin are sealed, ideally with some caulking.

The larvae inside should die within a few days and new ones should not appear.

2. Limit Nitrogen

Why Are There Maggots in My Vermicomposting Bin & Is It Good or Bad?

Too much nitrogen can entice maggots and allow them to thrive. You are putting nitrogen-rich material into your vermicomposting bin (such as kitchen waste). Add more carbon-rich items (such as shredded cardboard). This will not only help absorb moisture but will also balance that excess nitrogen.

If you see any large chunks of kitchen scraps, either break them up so they break easily or remove them entirely.

3. Prevent Excess Moisture

Black soldier fly larvae cannot survive without water, so getting rid of any excess moisture can also be an effective way to prevent new insects from appearing. Dry the top of the bin – You can let it dry on its own by avoiding adding new wet material.

However, you may have to speed things up a bit. You can add things like shavings or newspaper. This will help absorb the excess liquid.

Things like diatomaceous earth, eggshells and lime can also help absorb moisture and acidity. If you use diatomaceous earth, however, be careful where you put it—you don’t want to apply it anywhere the bugs in your bin could come into contact with it. It should only be placed outside as a deterrent above the bed to eliminate flies.

4. Burying Food Offerings

Why Are There Maggots in My Vermicomposting Bin & Is It Good or Bad?

When you add new materials to your compost bin, make sure you bury them deeply. Don’t just put them on top of the pile. Not only does this make the food more accessible to all insects, but it also reduces the chance that flies will be attracted to the bin.

5. Put the Fly Strips

You should avoid using any kind of toxic chemicals in or near your vermicomposting bin. These can harm your insects and stop the decomposition process in your bin. Instead, use fly strips.

The sticky tape will catch the flies before they get inside the bin and may even be able to snap some of the maggots, depending on where you put the tape (of course, be careful doing this, as you may end up with some red wigglers. can also hold )

Be patient!

Why Are There Maggots in My Vermicomposting Bin & Is It Good or Bad?

Most of the time, as long as you don’t see any worms dying, with a few worms floating around in the vermicomposting bin, there’s nothing to worry about. Just be patient and they should run their course.

It’s when worm numbers become overwhelming—or when your red wigglers begin to fade—that you may need to investigate this source of insects and the best ways to get rid of them.

Often, it’s easiest to prevent insects from getting in in the first place.

Some recommend removing or redoing all castings in a bin infested with insects – DO NOT DO THIS! Maggots are not harmful and will go away on their own. Once they finish eating, the problem should go away.

Instead, consider ways you can prevent maggots from getting inside the vermicomposting bin in the future—and you should have a bin that’s healthy and productive to grow.

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