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Re: Live Foods Digest V2 #261

Dear Norm & Susan, 

You are somewhat lucky that your white worm and Grendel worm cultures were
only attacked by wild-type fruit flies. The flies are competing for the food
not directly attacking the worms. You may have to separate starters of worms
from each culture. If you starve the culture for a while, the maggots will
mature and leave, hopefully before all the worms starve and you'll be able to
save the original cultures also.
     There is a song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, 
     so I am not sure what would happen if you tried to use 
     spiders or lady bugs or praying mantises 
     to catch all the flies. Perhaps she'll die.

I too found out the hard way that a secure screen is important with worm
cultures. Using the commercially available worm farm boxes also prevents this
problem because they use a solid lid with screen vents under dirt level.

It could be a lot, lot worse. There is a parasitic fly about housefly size
that lays its eggs on worms. The hatching maggot is an internal parasite and
kills the worm slowly. Obviously if you transfer out a start of worms for a
new culture, you'll transfer some of the maggots too. 

About six months ago I had four worm cultures invaded by a fly that resembled
this parasitic one. I don't know for sure if it was, but very likely it was.
They are attracted by the smell of the worms. I dismantled all my worm and
soil cultures. Sadly, I lost my African dwarf red worm culture, which I don't
know if I will be able to replace. I decided to wait until mid-winter to start
any new worm cultures, to use the commercial worm boxes, and be very careful
to close them in the future. I've only been doing this stuff since 1970, so
I'm still learning as I go.