If you know one thing about red worms, it’s that they’re crazy about brown cardboard. After all, why not? It’s the perfect bedding, the perfect jungle-gym, and the most readily available foodstock.
Have you ever wondered why they eat it?
We’d like to jot down some of our thoughts on this topic and present some different theories that are floating around out there. We’d love to hear your feedback and hear your thoughts so be sure to leave a comment below!
Why Do Worms Like Brown Cardboard?
Before we dive into some different theories, let’s first discuss what cardboard is comprised of.
First, there are two types – paperboard and cardboard. Paperboard is cereal boxes, 12-pack soda boxes, empty toilet paper rolls and the such. The other kind is corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard uses glue to seal the corrugations. Paperboard does not have any glues holding it together, and the two are made differently. This is an important thing to remember as we talk about the theories below.
Theory 1: They like the cardboard glue. Corrugated cardboard is held together by glue – which is why it unravels and falls apart when wet – and also explains why certain places feel slippery when wet. This glue is said to be made from cornstarch, and therefore, contains nutrients in it. However, this is only a theory and there has been no substantial evidence on that front. Worms eat shredded paper and paperboard too, so the glue can’t be the only reason worms enjoy feeding on brown cardboard.
Theory 2: There is actual food found in cardboard. Cardboard collects and houses many species of fungi due to the fact that it’s a material that’s high-carbon and nitrogen. Secondly, since brown cardboard is often used to hold and transport organic foods, there is undoubtedly a small amount of food juices and rotting waste that seeps into the cardboard. This means you have a good chance of finding a microbial population in the cardboard and we all know worms love microbes.
There is a business in Vernalis, CA that used to use cardboard and paper sludge as their only feedstock. Now, they use bits of vegetable waste. But, it worked for a while!
At least we have some answers here. Undoubtedly there are more, so please share your ideas! Most importantly, the worms seem to thrive by brown cardboard and seem to love eating it! Don’t forget to shred, or cut up your brown cardboard to make it easier for the worms to digest and more suitable for bedding. Cardboard is the perfect bedding because it allows air and gases to flow freely, it holds water, keeping the worms moist and also absorbs water to prevent too much water from swamping your bedding!
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is a vermicomposting company that specializes in worm farms, kits and the famous red wiggler. The above image is not our own.
Image courtesy of www.ecosherpa.com