Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Fruit Flies, Fungus Gnats, Mosquitoes, Spiders and Lizards: Vermicomposting in the Philippines

I've read that worm bins are not just bedding, food and worms, but that bins represent an entire ecosystem.  Apparently, that's true not just inside the bin, but outside as well.  Let me tell you my story.

In the past one and half months, I've seen so many fruit flies and fungus gnats around my bins that I've had to kill them with my electric fly swatter every morning.  I'd get at least 6-7 hits per day.  The swatter is a cool tool, but the experience gets old quickly.

The past week though, I think it has lessened to about 1-2 hits only.  Why?

I think the bugs peaked when I ate a lot of bananas and did not bury the peels sufficiently deep in bedding.  About two weeks ago, I really wanted to lessen the paper I had because my paper and cardboard bin was already full.  So without shredding, I just dumped a lot of paper into my 5-gallon water container / worm bin.  Since that time, I saw minimal gnats flying around from that bin.  So I guess that technique works.  Dry bedding prevents insects from laying eggs. 

I've also eliminated most water sources.  I had an aquarium there which I used for an experimental hydroponic set-up.  Epic fail.  But I didn't drain the water at once because I was using the water to moisten my worm bins on a daily basis.  The tradeoff is that it bred dozens of mosquitoes!  I just gave up and used the water for my plants.  Then I dumped a whole newspaper inside the aquarium to absorb the excess moisture.  Worked like a charm.

So while I did my part in minimizing the insects, it seemed like I attracted a host of predators as well.  See, there's an ecosystem outside my bins!  I've been seeing lots of spiders and I think they're eating the other insects.  Good luck to them.  I've also been seeing more house lizards, which were also probably attracted by the free food flying around.

The clincher though is that I saw a big lizard hanging out right beside one of my bins.  I don't think it's after my worms, but if it did, it could eat a worm.  This one wasn't like a normal house lizard that's grey and plain.  He had a course back and was bigger.  And he was staring at me! Eek!  Too much food in the area.  Oh well.  Anyway, since I've done my part in lessening the insects, I'm hoping to see a decline in the predators as well. 

To make this post meaningful, there should be a lesson.  Don't underestimate the impact of dry bedding on top of your worm bin.  Otherwise you might find yourself staring into the eyes of a big lizard with a course back.


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