Best Nightcrawler Food

Nightcrawlers, also known as Lumbricus terrestris, are large, segmented earthworms that are commonly used as fishing bait. They’re native to Europe but have been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America.

These amazing creatures have a great significant impact on our environment, both under and above ground.

If you’re interested in learning more about these slithery crawlers, then you’ve come to the right place. This post talks about the best nightcrawler foods as well as what not to feed them.

Let’s jump in.

About Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers worms in soil

Nightcrawlers are detritivores, which means they eat decaying organic matter. This includes dead leaves, twigs, plant roots, and animal carcasses. They also consume bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in the soil.

These wriggly creatures are most active at night, and they spend most of their time burrowing through the soil. They have a well-developed sense of smell and taste, which they use to find food. Nightcrawlers are also sensitive to changes in light and temperature, and they’ll retreat to their burrows if the soil becomes too hot or too dry.

A type of earthworm, they help break down organic matter and release nutrients back into the soil. This makes them valuable for agriculture and gardening. They’re also a food source for many animals, including birds, snakes, and frogs.

The Best Nightcrawler Food

Nightcrawlers are detritivores, which means they eat decaying organic matter. This includes dead leaves, twigs, plant roots, and animal carcasses. They also consume bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in the soil.

Always keep their food moist because these crawlers can’t consume dry food. If you suspect their food is becoming too dry, simply add a bit of water to their bin

Here are some of the best types of food for these earthworms:

Decomposing Fruit

Nightcrawlers love to eat decomposing fruit, such as apples, banana peels, oranges, and grapes, because they contain high levels of organic matter. And since earthworms can’t get enough organic matter, decomposing fruits make an excellent food source. One way to serve them is to chop up the fruit into small pieces and bury it in their bin.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen, which is important for nightcrawlers. You can add a handful of coffee grounds to their bin every week. Coffee is also a natural pesticide that helps ward off various pests like ants, slugs, and snails.

Tea Bags

A set of tea bags

Tea bags are another good source of nitrogen for nightcrawlers. You can bury a few tea bags in their bin each week. In addition, as the tea bags break down, they act as a heat source for the worm farm.


Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, which is important for nightcrawlers’ digestion. You can cook up some oatmeal and bury it in their bin. Another way to serve it up is by lightly spraying their fresh bedding to increase moisture levels and then sprinkle the oatmeal over the surface.

Shredded Newspapers

Shredded newspapers make wonderful worm beds. They provide nightcrawlers with ideal conditions and comfortable bedding. They’re also great at absorbing excess moisture and preventing offensive odors. You can add a few handfuls of shredded paper to their bin each week.

What Shouldn’t Nightcrawlers Eat?

As mentioned above, nightcrawlers are detritivores, meaning they primarily consume decaying organic matter. While they can digest a wide range of substances, certain foods should be avoided in their diet, as they can be harmful or even fatal to the worms.

For example, you should avoid feeding them meat, dairy products, or eggs. By steering clear of these food items and others, you can ensure that your crawlers remain healthy and productive in their composting duties.

With that in mind, we rounded up some of the best worm foods to serve your nightcrawlers:

Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

Meat, dairy, and eggs are all high in proteins and fats that are difficult for nightcrawlers to digest. As such, they can cause digestive issues, attract pests, and even lead to death. These products are also harmful because they can cause potential pest and odor problems.

Greasy or Oily Foods

Grease and oil can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the worms’ digestive system, causing health problems. It’s also worth noting that greasy foods form a thick, viscous layer on the worms’ skin, and since they breathe through their skin, these types of foods make it difficult for them to breathe.

That’s why we recommend that you avoid adding foods heavily coated in grease or oil to their bin. 

Processed Foods

Processed foods often contain high levels of preservatives, additives, and salts that aren’t beneficial for any type of creature, including nightcrawlers. That’s why you should stick to feeding them fresh, organic produce whenever possible.

Citrus Fruits

Peeled Citrus Fruits Composition

Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, can be acidic and cause digestive upset in nightcrawlers. The acidity and natural chemicals in these foods can irritate the worm’s skins, and can even be fatal, so it’s best to avoid feeding them these fruits altogether.

Raw Potatoes

Raw potatoes contain solanine, which is a toxic substance that acts as a potent pesticide. Hence, it’s considered a lethal source of nutrition for nightcrawlers and should be avoided at all costs. Cooked potatoes, on the other hand, are fine since the solanine is broken down during the cooking process.

Unripe Fruits

Unripe fruits contain high levels of tannins, which can be highly toxic to nightcrawlers. It’s better to feed them ripe, fully mature, fresh fruits because they’re a great source of organic matter, which these crawly worms need to grow and thrive.


Nightcrawlers, also known as Lumbricus terrestris, are essential components of the ecosystem that play a crucial role in soil decomposition and nutrient cycling. Providing these earthworms with an appropriate and balanced diet is essential for their health and well-being.

The best nightcrawler foods are decomposing organic matter, such as fruits, coffee grounds, tea bags, and oatmeal

On the other hand, try to avoid giving them foods that could be harmful to their health like meat, dairy, eggs, citrus fruits, and raw potatoes. This way, you can ensure that these creatures thrive and continue to contribute to the health of your soil and garden.

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