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tiny white worms and/or grubs??

 
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I have discovered tiny white worms in two places. The first place was in a large pile of woodchip - shredded fresh a few months ago and left untouched except for the chickens scratching around in it. Then the chickens were gone for a month and the pile had lots of rain. When I came back I dug out a scoop and discovered tiny white grubs, 1cm or less long, and very thin. they looked like grubs but they might have been worms.

The chickens did have worms at one point in the fall, I cleaned out their coop thoroughly, disposed of the bedding far away, dusted everything with DE, and have not had any obvious reoccurence of worms. I don't think the grubs are the same as what I saw in the chicken coop but I can't be 100% sure. The chickens free range over a very large area.

Then yesterday I went to check on my 'lasagna' bed - last August I piled up 12" of woodchip, 8-12" of semi-composted cow muck (cow poop mixed with straw), topped it with 12" of dried hay. It's been out in the rain since then untouched. When I dug into it I discovered these white worms in the cow muck layer - but impossible to tell if they came from the cow muck or the woodchip. I'm not 100% sure these are the same as the ones in the woodchip pile, as these looked more like worms and less like grubs - these are 1-2cm long and very thin and wriggly. They are totally white. This bed has not decomposed as much as I would have hoped - all the elements are still indentifiable. But it also has plenty of nice fat, healthy-looking earthworms in it. I think mostly earthworms, not red wrigglers, although I have plenty of those in my garden compost heap.

So, does anyone have a clue about this white grubs and/or worms? Should I panic - are they horrible parasites and having them near my chickens, compost, and vegetable garden going to make me terribly ill? Or are they juvenile earthworms? Or something else? Help!
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Pic?
 
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
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The small white worms are probably pot worms. They look just like a normal worm, but are about the size you described. A common thing in worm-bins and compost areas with high organic matter and acidic conditions.

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-composting/ive-got-white-worms/

 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Upon further investigation I saw fewer of the things that looked like actual worms, and more of the things that looked like grubs. White, less than 1 cm long, and not wriggly in the same way as worms. They are most concentrated in the 'lasagna' bed where large lumps of cow muck have not broken down well, they are in the middle of such lumps. They are in clusters, not throughout.
2014-02-25-15.55.53.jpg
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2014-02-25-15.55.42.jpg
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2014-02-25-15.35.43.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2014-02-25-15.35.43.jpg]
 
Cj Sloane
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In the bottom pic the look more like baby red wigglers.
 
Johnny Niamert
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Baby red wigglers aren't white.
 
Cj Sloane
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My bad. Probably Enchytraeus buchholzi.
 
S Carreg
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That could be it, although I think they are shorter and more 'grub like' and less 'wriggly' than the pictures of those I've been looking at.

Are there any parasites that I would need to worry about that they could potentially be?
 
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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Could they be horn fly maggots?
 
S Carreg
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I don't know - I don't know anything about horn fly. Just from googling, it says eggs are laid in fresh cow dung and the larval stage is not that long. The cow muck we had was delivered (from a local farmer) in October, and it was already a couple of months old then. The heap steamed for a couple of weeks and then cooled down. In late October I spread it thickly on the lasagna beds and left the rest in the heap. We have not had a cold winter, temperatures have stayed above freezing except a few brief hard frosts, we have had a lot of rain. I don't know if HF maggots would still be around after all that time?
 
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