The key difference between earthworms and compost worms is that earthworms live underground while compost worms live near the surface of compost bins, searching for new material.
Worms prefer to live in an environment that has a good supply of food, moisture, oxygen and a favourable temperature. Earthworms and compost worms are two types of segmented worms which belong to phylum Annelida. Both earthworms and compost worms are reddish colour worms. They are extremely important as decomposers. Though earthworms and compost worms look similar, they are different. Compost worms are suitable for bin vermicomposting systems while earthworms are not well suited for them.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Earthworms
3. What are Compost Worms
4. Similarities Between Earthworms and Compost Worms
5. Side by Side Comparison – Earthworms vs Compost Worms in Tabular Form
What are Earthworms?
Earthworms are a type of important segmented worms found in the soil. There are approximately 3000 different types of earthworms. They can be microscopic or several meters long. Earthworms are reddish-brown in colour. They live underground and depend on dead organic material. Earthworms use their segments to burrow and move in the soil. Hence, they are very good decomposers in the soil and are vital to soil health. Moreover, earthworms play an important role in soil structure, water movement, nutrient dynamics and plant growth. They enable aeration and drainage, as well. In fact, earthworms are a very important part of the soil, and they accelerate nutrient recycling. They transport nutrients from the underground to the surface of the soil. Not only that, but earthworms can also promote microbial activity in the soil. However, earthworms are not suited for bin vermicomposting systems.
For birds, rats, frogs and other animals, earthworms are a good source of food. Earthworms are hermaphrodites. Hence, they exhibit both male and female characteristics.
What are Compost Worms?
Compost worms are a type of worms involved in vermicomposting. compost worms help to convert kitchen and garden waste into useful compost. They are reddish-purple worms with segmented bodies. These worms prefer to live near the surface of the compost bin because they prefer to use new waste materials. They prefer wetter conditions and are keen to eat rotting organic materials. Hence, compost worms are very much suitable for bin or barrel composting. They are not suitable for garden compost piles.
There are several varieties of compost worms. Compost worms aerate the soil and speed up the decomposition process. Red wiggler worms are the commonly used compost worms in vermicomposting. Moreover, tiger worms are another type of compost worms used in vermicomposting.
What are the Similarities Between Earthworms and Compost Worms?
- Earthworms and compost worms are segmented worms that are important as decomposers.
- Both types of worms are capable of breaking down waste.
- They are typically reddish in colour.
- They respire through their skin.
What is the Difference Between Earthworms and Compost Worms?
Earthworms are a type of segmented worms which lives underground, while compost worms are a type of segmented worms which prefers to live near the surface. Thus, this is the key difference between earthworms and compost worms. Furthermore, earthworms are small as 1/4 inch in length to 6 inches or longer, whereas compost worms are small as 2 to 3 inches long. More importantly, earthworms are not suitable for bin vermicomposting systems, while compost worms are suitable for bin vermicomposting systems.
Below infographic shows more details of the difference between earthworms and compost worms in tabular form.
Summary – Earthworms vs Compost Worms
Earthworms and compost worms are two types of segmented worms which are good decomposers of organic matter. However, earthworms are unsuitable for composting bins or barrels. Compost worms are very much suitable for bin and barrel composting. This is because earthworms move and burrow the soil and prefer to live underground. In contrast, compost worms prefer to live near the surface of the compost bin eating new materials. Thus, this summarizes the difference between earthworms and compost worms.
1. “Earthworm” By Aruna at ml.wikipedia – Transferred from ml.wikipedia by User:Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Eisenia foetida R.H. (8)” By Rob Hille – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia