Composting is arguably the simplest method to decrease your carbon footprint by diverting trash from landfills. When we toss away food leftovers and trash, they end up in landfills, where they take up unneeded space and emit a harmful greenhouse gas called methane.
You have chosen to include compost into your gardening endeavor, which is presumably why you are here. Excellent!
You may discover that certain creepy crawlies are drawn to your compost, which is completely normal. Mealworms, like earthworms, may be found in compost heaps.
Are they dangerous? No! However, do they aid in plant growth? No more. Mealworms eat virtually anything, mostly grains, but they will drain nutrients from any plant development in your yard, even seedlings.
They are best used in compost!
Composting mealworms and styrofoam
This may come as a surprise, but mealworms can digest styrofoam. According to scientists, this is feasible because specific bacteria found in their intestines are capable of biodegrading polystyrene.
According to research conducted at Stanford University, 100 worms turned about half of the styrofoam perfectly into carbon dioxide (like they do with other meals) and then expelled the remainder as deteriorated pieces resembling animal droppings. The trash seemed to be suitable for agricultural cultivation.
If you are having trouble believing this, here’s a video of mealworms devouring Styrofoam.
This incredible finding requires further study, but it seems very hopeful given that polystyrene was previously believed to be non-biodegradable.
There is little solid data to state definitively that the castings are safe, but if you have some styrofoam and some mealworms to get rid of, and you have almost nothing to lose by giving them to the mealworms!
What precisely does compost contain?
When you hear the word compost, your mind immediately goes to stinky leftovers, but compost is so much more.
Yes, compost may be stinky due to the decaying nature of the material. However, combining these ingredients results in a highly nutritious fertilizer that promotes plant growth.
Composting is a self-contained win-win scenario. It is an excellent approach for you to aid the environment while also assisting your plants in thriving naturally.
Anything that nature provides, such as avocado pits, apple cores, banana peels, and potato shavings, may be added to your compost pile.
Grains, which grow in soil as well, may be put into your compost pile. Cereals, spaghetti noodles, and even stale or moldy bread.
Additionally, coffee grinds are an excellent addition to fertilizer or may be used on their own. Additionally, nutshells and eggshells may be added.
Items such as fur, paper, hair, and old newspapers, cardboard, dryer lint, and even fireplace ashes may be useful.
Other flower and plant clippings may also be composted.
Keep anything greasy and oily out of your pile; it will serve no use. Add no meat, fish, or animal fats.
While it is often thought that animal excrement is an excellent fertilizer, this is not always the case; in fact, it may include pathogens that damage the plants with which it comes into touch.
Keep in mind that your compost pile can be divided into three sections:
- Browns – Decomposing leaves, sticks, twigs, and branches, as well as brown paper.
- Grass and food waste are considered greens.
- Water – Moisture is critical for the proper growth of your compost and produces an excellent “compost tea.”
Composting benefits my plants in what ways?
Composting is very beneficial in the gardening industry, which is why it is frequently promoted.
It aids plants in retaining nutrients and moisture in their soil, which means less watering is required. It removes plant diseases and the need for pesticides and other inorganic fertilizers.
Composting reduces my carbon footprint in what ways?
Your trash ends up in landfills, as well as the accumulation of this waste in one place produces a deadly greenhouse gas called methane, which plays a significant role in climate change.
Composting helps reduce trash that gets up here, and fertilized plants help remove 99.6 percent of volatile organic compounds inside the air! These gases may be hazardous to people and animals when eaten or breathed.
What is the best way to get started composting?
In essence, a composting pile does not form overnight. It takes a great deal of patience to gather and remember to add them to your collection. Collect them in a container or an outside mound, but keep it clear of any stray animals. This is potentially poisonous to them and will result in a massive disaster.
This may also require the appropriate quantity of air. And water must be added to your pile to assist it in maintaining its moisture content. Typically, these are the only actions required, and nature takes care of the rest.
It will probably take a few weeks to a few months to observe any development, but it will transform into the soil, at which point you may apply it to your plants! Good.
Do compost bins serve as a magnet for bugs and rodents?
Compost heaps are basically little ecosystems in and of themselves. Small and large animals, good and evil, call this place home. It is home to a plethora of little animals. A group of fungus, bacteria, molds, insects, and worms.
Rats, on the other hand, are a frequent adversary and will seek out compost bins for two reasons: food and refuge. When food supplies are limited and there are insufficient warm burrowing places for rats, as they are during the winter, they will undoubtedly take an interest in your mound of compost.
This is particularly concerning since rats are known to gnaw through virtually anything, including wood and wiring. They travel in groups and may be carriers of a variety of illnesses.
It is critical that you bury food leftovers or avoid introducing them at all. Vermicomposting containers are an excellent option for food waste since they decompose using red worms. It is so good.
Bokashi composting is another technique that is claimed to be excellent in deterring even the most voracious of rats.
Do you say worms?
Certain composters use a number of different species of worms to aid in the composting process. Compost worms, like earthworms, are attracted to compost heaps but need more wet conditions.
In most instances, worms make their way into compost heaps on their own, although composters sometimes introduce them. The red worm/red wrigglers are the most often utilized kind of worm in composting.
Are mealworms beneficial or detrimental to compost?
Mealworms are darkling beetle larvae. Although they are known to graze on stored grains and cereals, they will consume almost anything, live or dead.
Take a look at the time-lapse movie below to see mealworms consuming various meals.
There is no need to worry if you discover mealworms in your compost. They will gladly consume your organic waste and convert it to a nutrient-rich soil amendment, exactly as regular worms do. However, they will ultimately transform into a darkling beetle. Although these beetles are not dangerous, an excessive number of them may become a nuisance.
Although the beetles prefer rotting materials, they may cause harm to living plants by biting seedlings and eating on leaf material.
Additionally, it is not pleasant to have to deal with a swarm of insects crawling through your compost as you attempt to collect it!
If there are just a few mealworms around, I would not be concerned and would let them alone. However, if your bin becomes infected, I would attempt to decrease the population. In the next part, I will discuss how to remove mealworms in compost.
It is worth mentioning that mealworms are a very uncommon occurrence in compost. You should know this.
Black soldier fly larvae are considerably more prevalent and often mistaken for mealworms; thus, before taking any action, ensure that you have not misdiagnosed your mealworms.
I have mealworms in my compost bin; are they beneficial?
Mealworms are not true worms; they are darkling beetle larvae. Typically, they consume all forms of organic materials. The majority of people believe that since they are more drawn to decomposing organic waste such as dead leaves, grass, twigs, and sticks, they will avoid eating good plants.
This just is not true. If you have mealworms in your garden, they will likely be of benefit to you only if they make their way into the compost pile.
The decomposing organic waste will provide them with an excellent food supply, and they will ultimately convert it into nutritious stuff that will stimulate plant development. When they mature into beetles, they may become more difficult to manage and will no longer benefit your pile, so keep that in mind.
Simply keep an eye out for larger animals who find mealworms delectable treats, as they may sift through your bin in search of a mealworm or two or more!
How to eliminate mealworms from compost
Spread a tarp over your mealworm-infested compost and let the birds consume the mealworms (source: sacratomato hr). Mealworms are a bird’s favorite food. The most effective method of eradicating them is to put infected compost on the ground or even on a plastic sheet. You should know this.
Leave the compost in place for about a day. When you return to it, you should find that all the mealworms have been consumed by birds and other animals.
Choose a day when you are certain it will not rain; otherwise, you will end up with some very wet compost.
The bird technique is effective on the majority of larvae found in compost. Maggots and black soldier fly larvae are also popular for birds.
Chickens will collect mealworms for you from the compost. Additionally, if you have hens, you may let them pick through your compost. Chickens like mealworms as delicious and healthy food.
Another alternative is to start heating your compost!
A high concentration of creepy crawlies in the compost indicates that the weather is chilly. This is not a significant issue since cold composting works.
However, hot composting is much quicker, as most animals dislike high temperatures and will flee the compost heap if it becomes too hot.
Heating compost is a subject unto itself. For more information about how to get started, see my in-depth article on heating your compost.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mealworms
Are mealworms beneficial to your soil?
Mealworms are not considered helpful to plants since they are the larvae of that darkling beetle. They are scavengers and will consume any organic substance, living or dead.
Are mealworms environmentally harmful?
Mealworms Outperform Meat in Environmental Concerns: The Salt In a new study, Dutch researchers make a scientific case on the environmental benefits for insect proteins. Mealworms outperformed dairy, pig, poultry, and beef in terms of land usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
Are mealworms capable of digesting manure?
Mealworms do consume rotting plants in addition to grain goods, so why not give it a try? Rabbit dung has about 20% protein, whereas wheat bran contains 15% protein.
What is the best way to get rid of mealworms?
Cleaning up and removing old baits, infected food items, and perhaps the infested bird nest inside attics may sometimes be enough for mealworm treatment.
Are mealworms capable of biting humans?
Are Mealworms Bite-Producing? No. Mealworms, like super worms, have mandibles, however, they seem to be too tiny and feeble to be detected by humans or reptiles when they try to bite. Additionally, mealworm beetles do not seem to be inclined or capable of biting.
Other People’s Opinions on Are Mealworms in Compost Beneficial or Negative?
If they are mealworms, they may quickly become a problem in a compost bin. Composting is only for the purpose of obtaining excellent, clean, nutritious soil. Yes, it will include worms, but preferably just earthworms.
Mealworms develop in three distinct phases. The first stage is the larval or the eggs which hatch into mealworms. These are not all that terrible, but as another answer said, they do not really consume dirt. They like oats and wheat bran and more.
When the worms mature into pupae, they may be consumed by other insects inside your compost. Your soil will then include decaying pupae, which will begin to smell.
If they reach the beetle stage inside your compost, things may become very nasty. They ultimately proliferate to the point that you get stressed out from having to filter beetles from the soil. While they do not fly, they are quick and may create more issues in your yard than they are worth in terms of attracting other pests which will want to feed on their increasing population. And, when they decompose within three to four months in your compost, you may experience unpleasant odors similar to those of ammonia.
The good news is that black soldier fly larvae and/or mealworms are beneficial for composting.
The bad news is that your compost is a bit too chilly if it can sustain a large number of creepy crawlies. And It will compost more quickly if you can raise the temperature. In your instance, stirring and adding more browns to absorb moisture would be helpful.
The good news is that cold composting is still effective.
The bad news is that there are none. Compost rocks, whether they are hot or cold. Continue.
While mealworms may be helpful to compost, they are not always beneficial to your plants. When you see one, attempt to include it into your compost bin so it does not nibble on your nutritious greens!