Worms are funny little creatures aren’t they? While they may not be loved by everyone, they can certainly be a gardener’s best friend.
Worms are awesome at composting and you may be wondering how you can help them do their job even better. People often add eggshells to a compost bin, and there are two trains of thought here:
One being a concern that eggshells might hurt worms (we’ll look into this more in a bit), but also there’s the question of whether worms eat eggshells … and are they nutritious for them? Let’s find out.
What Are Earthworms?
First thing’s first, let’s make sure we understand what these little wrigglers are to appreciate why they’re so important.
Earthworms are terrestrial invertebrates. Their bodies are made up of ring-style segments (these are called annuli) and they can reach up to 14 inches in length, although most are much smaller than this.
They can be found in many places across the world, but they are indigenous to Europe. And they are completely harmless!
Earthworms don’t have eyes. Instead, they have receptors on their skin. Amazingly, they also don’t have lungs, so they breathe through their skin too. But they do have a whopping 5 hearts! As worms are hermaphrodites, they have both male and female reproductive organs.
While these creatures may not be essential for healthy soil, they certainly help!
Earthworms eat soil (via the first segment of the body – which contains the mouth), and they extract all of their vital nutrients from dying matter like roots and leaves. From there, they deposit beneficial nutrients and minerals into the soil via their waste.
As well as helping the nutrients in the soil, they are also great because their tunnels create aeration in the soil which is beneficial for plants.
Earthworms are awesome little helpers, not only for your standard garden soil, but also for your compost bin, with many people choosing to add them from the off.
Why Are Eggshells Good For Composting?
Eggshells are another helpful addition to your compost bin, but why is this? Well, eggshells are a fantastic source of calcium so, when you finally use your compost, this will help your plants to build up their cell walls.
Top tip: While you don’t have to crush the eggshells before adding them to your compost bin, it can be helpful as this will speed up how quickly they can be decomposed.
It’s also a good idea to wash the eggshells before you crush and add them, just to keep rodents, and other unwanted creatures, away from your compost bin.
So, Do Worms Eat Eggshells?
So we know that earthworms eat leaves and roots, but will they also munch through the eggshells?
Well, worms may not always eat eggshells, especially if they’re not crushed, but if they do, they can prove to be just as beneficial to the worm as they can to your soil.
Finely crushed eggshells can be helpful for an earthworm’s gizzard (birds and some other animals have gizzards too) as they act as grit. Grit works to break down bigger food particles, making digestion easier.
Do Eggshells Hurt Earthworms?
While eggshells and worms seem like a good compost bin combination in theory – does this actually work? Well, we’ve already learnt that crushed eggshells can be beneficial for a worm’s diet, but do the eggshells hurt the worms’ bodies?
Nope, you have absolutely nothing to worry about because earthworms won’t be harmed by eggshells, so adding washed and crushed eggshells to your compost bin is perfectly safe.
I’ve personally never been afraid of worms. My grandad used to pick them out of the soil when I was little – he would show them to me, tell me how helpful they were, and let me hold them gently.
So I’ve never developed a fear or a squeamish feeling about them. But I can understand why people do dislike them – they are odd little things.
But just remember, earthworms are super helpful for both your garden and your compost bin – they can really make a difference to the quality of your soil.
And there’s no need to worry about adding eggshells into your compost bin when worms are there. The eggshells won’t hurt the little worms and they can actually prove to be a beneficial part of their diet – even aiding their digestion. So it really is a win-win situation.
Just remember to crush your eggshells to make them easier for the worms, and give them a wash first to avoid attracting unwanted critters to your compost bin.