Tea Leaf Compost Infested With Tiny Worms

UncleJohn(z4 NH)March 4, 2008

I maintain a separate container indoors to compost my tea leaves. I love the idea that this compost comes from 15 nations spanning 6 continents. This year the container in my basement has become infested with lots of tiny white worms. They are a little shorter than a grain of rice, and quite skinny, similar to what I remember pinworms looking like. I put the bucket outdoors for a week where it froze solid, but when I brought it back in, the worms were fine after they thawed.

I poured some of the compost into a yogurt container and filled it with water, and think I succeeded in drowning the worms in that batch.

Any ideas as to what these critters might be, and whether I should be concerned? I would like to add some of this compost to my seedling mix for when I upsize my vegetable seedlings. But I don't want to introduce an insect that may harm them.

Thanks...

-John

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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

the worms were fine after they thawed-
that must have been unsettling.
Is it possible even a small amount of milk or meat products got in there?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 2:52PM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

Yeah, I was a little disappointed that they appeared no worse for the wear of single-digit temperatures. I kinda hoped our New Hampshire winters would do me some good!

I am 99% certain that only tea leaves and coffee grounds made it in. My wife does use cream in her coffee, but she puts that in the mug, and to my knowledge it never comes in contact with the grounds.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 7:14PM
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kimpa(z6b PA)

Hi, Here is a website that might help you.

http://www.happydranch.com/12.html

I would expect that things living in your compost like to eat bacteria and fungi, not live plant material.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 7:36AM
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trancegemini_wa(10b)

I agree with kimpa, they sound like pot worms which are very small and white and are sometimes found in vermicomposting bins as well. they won't harm your plants and are just feeding on the decaying material.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 7:43AM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

Thanks for the link, but these are significantly shorter than the pot worms. They also seem to have survived their daylong swim; it proved more a bath than a drowning even though they were not on the surface. Here is a photo of the little critters.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:07AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

I'd put some screening over the bin - eg. nylon window screen - to prevent any flies that might hatch from escaping, which in turn would help with identification.

Have you tried posting on the vermicomposting forum?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:28AM
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kimpa(z6b PA)

Could they be fruit fly larvae? That link shows a picture (see column on right). Good idea about screen to see what they hatch into.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 6:46PM
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idaho_gardener

I have to wonder if the eggs for those maggots were already in the tea leaves.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:31PM
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