Red Californian worm in details
Red Californian worms are selection, which is obtained artificially – they have been grown and selected in farm cultivation for many years. There are 2 worm species for commercial purposes: the foregoing “Lumbricus rubellus” and “Eisenija foetida”, which is less popular. The main advantages of “domesticated” worms comparing to earthworms are as follows:
- 5 to 4 times greater fertility justifying their propagation with great speed
- Domesticated worms have lost their instinct to escape – as long as they are feeling good, they do not leave their beds
- The tamed red Californian worms have healthy bodies, certain resistance to temperature fluctuations and the ability of living in large concentrations – as in nature, worms have a density of 50 pcs / sq. m. , but in beds they are up to 50,000 pcs. / sq. m.
Red Californian worms live in moderately mild climate. The optimal temperature is 19-20 degrees Celsius. Their average length is 6.8 cm. and thickness between 3-5 mm. The weight of a mature worm is 0.8-1 gr. They prefer darkness instead of light. The daily consumption of food is equal to their weight.
External and internal structure
The body of the worm is composed of almost identical parts that are separated from one another by a thin partition. Their total number is around 150. Each part, except the first and the last, has four pairs of chitin hairs, which protrude from the body and can be seen with a magnifying glass. These hairs are the strongest parts of the body and serve to worms for moving. The lack of skeleton and mucus enable the worms to slide on the ground. The flexible bodies allow easy and efficient movement. The location of their muscles enable rhythmic contraction and dissolution of the body, as it is passed from part to part, starting from the first in backward direction. Due to these rhythmic motions, worms are moving in the ground and not only building tunnels, but plowing it as well.
The worms have muscle organs for feeding. They do not chew the food, but sucking it. The sucked food is moistened with gastric juices. While food ferments, worm`s glands and pharynx release calcium carbonate to neutralize it. Intake food is shredded and decomposed in the muscular glands by bacteria and enzymes. Because of the very good food digestion and disposal of harmful waste materials for worms, there aren`t any diseases noticed and visible signs of age. It is believed, that the worms live up to 16 years.
Worms do not have any separate organ for breathing, but they breathe through their body surface. Therefore they are forced to live in the ground and hide from the sun. They take a lot of air. The amount of oxygen increases the brightness of their red color. Lack of oxygen is the reason for the weaker activity and lower temperature.
The biggest feature of the red Californian worm is the speed of propagation. The most similar species can create up to 6 beds, whilst the red Californian worm up to 18 bed (1 bed is 2 sq. m). The ratio of the different species is the same. Therefore, it must be said that the largest earthworm has only one worm in its egg, while cocoon-egg of the red Californian worm have up to 20 units. The difference in the number of eggs is huge. The worm egg is a soft ball with the size of a half wheat grain, full of germs of worms. In normal condition, little white worms as thick as threads come out on second to third week. Cocoon can live more than a year, waiting for suitable weather conditions for disposal of worms. They can resist very low and very high temperature, which is particularly important. If due to any reason worms die, the cocoons remain.
Red Californian worms grow and develop rapidly. There are only 90 days from their appearance till maturity. Red Californian worms spawn their eggs every week in comparison of other worm species which need at least 6 weeks. Overcrowding of worms in the bed allow their frequent mating because they are meeting much more frequently than in nature. This can be even stimulating by adding small quantities of horse manure each 7-10 days.
It is not only necessary for the worms to spawn cocoons, but there also must be created optimal conditions for appearance of new worms. In order to achieve this in shortest possible term (2 weeks), there should be maintained most favorable temperature and moisture. The red hybrid has the ability to double the beds up to 5 times per year. This means that if at the beginning of spring you have 1 bed, then in autumn you should have at least 8. And if you have created the right conditions in winter, you could easily have 16 by next spring. This achievement is absolutely possible in Burgas region, Blagoevgrad region and some southern regions of the country. In sharp continental climate is not an easy task to achieve these results, but in terms of long-lasting warm autumn and mild winter, you could have similar results.
As a summary of what is most specific for the breeding of red Californian worm:
- Each worm has both male and female organs;
- Fertilization is carried out by klitelum, whose glands produce a cocoon (egg) every 7 days;
- The cocoon is yellow-green, 2-3 mm in diameter and has a shape of a small pear;
- Each egg mature after incubation between 14th to 21th From each cocoon come out from 2 to 21 tiny white worms, which become red after 5-6 days and after the 20th day, they are as big as the matured ones but without klitelum;
- Worms reach full maturity after 90th day with the appearance of the klitelum.
Influence of the environment on the Red Californian worm
In nature, worms can eat and live wherever they are, as long as there are suitable conditions. In worm farms, optimal conditions are provided on limited space. And while their mortality in the nature is in large scale, regulated breeding in artificial conditions significantly lowered it. The result is a huge concentration of adult worms, young worms and cocoons. Their average density in the nature is 50 pcs. / sq. m. In a single bed there are around 100 000 pieces at different age on every 2 sq. m. with different population relations. The main feature of these population relations is very high density of adults in the bed and considerably longer life. Definitely this is the optimal density of the red Californian worm per 1 sq. m. for biological usefulness. Greater density, than 100 000 worms per 2 sq. m., is very difficult to be created, because they somehow feel that are too many and lower their reproduction. Dilution of their maximum population by dividing the beds and reaching (after 60-90 days) of the same density is the essence of the farm raising of the red Californian worm.
The entire life cycle of the red Californian worm is carried out at a maximum depth of 25 cm. (Meanwhile the earthworm can go to 6 m. in depth).
All the activities of our worms are happening between these 25 cm. – nutrition, reproduction, growth, development and death. Even the overcrowding will not force them to leave their territory, as long as there is enough moisture.
Red Californian worm can be fed with all kind of organic waste that has passed some fermentation (even decayed).
- Faeces from domestic animals
- Organic household waste
- Food industry waste
- Fruits and vegetables waste
- Straw and leaves
- Paper and cardboard
- Sewage waste
The most suitable food for red Californian worm, bred for commercial purposes, is manure from all animals, especially from horses and cows. It is: easy for delivery, relatively cheap and depending on its type (short or long fermentation) is very appropriate option for spreading on the bed. Providing enough quantity of manure is the first requirement for successful feeding and intensive cultivation of the worms in the artificial conditions.
Manure`s moisture is another important factor in raising red Californian worm. Worms do not have lungs and breathe through their skin. They can even breathe under water as long as there is oxygen. Because of this, it is not appropriate to make the beds from concrete, metal or wood, because rains can cause floods that could kill them all.
The optimum moisture for worms is exactly 82.5 %. Watering is the best way for controlling the moist in the beds. Exceeded humidity can suffocate the worms, because it leaves them without air. Not only the suitable moisture level helps for breathing, but it also softens the food.
Red Californian worms are organisms that entirely prefer darkness. Exposed to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet radiation, they are paralyzed and die in a short time.
Daily light and night darkness is the most suitable environment for their breeding. At a constant and thick darkness they leave the bed and often suffer from drought and starvation. This condition is the so called “black out” or “escape in the darkness”. If the worms` beds are placed in dark rooms, ignition light should be supplied. Permanent light is not a good idea as well, because of the bad influence it has over the top layer of the manure.
The worms` attitude to the food is important for the technology of cultivation. The light makes them stay inside the nests. This way, they are easy to be directed in case of division of the beds, extraction of humus, worms gathering and others.
Red Californian worms almost never get sick. Their only disease could be the man who is responsible for their breeding, because only his carelessness can lead to a danger.
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