I killed Elmo and Slimey first, then the Wiggles.
Before you dial 9-1-1, I did not bump off the Australian kiddie-pop band – or the Muppets.
I did, however, knock off a slew of worms. I think that makes me a vermicidal maniac.
This all started when I agreed to try my hand at recycling food waste with worm composting, or vermicomposting, and succeed or fail, to write a story on the effort. Somehow, though, this story feels like a confession.
To get the worms, I drove up to Auburn, where I procured a starter set from the Placer Nature Center.
I buckled the brown paper bag, filled with red wigglers and earth, into the passenger seat, mostly to cut down on the potential shrieking (mine, not theirs) in case of sudden braking. If those worms got lodged in the air-conditioning vents, blech.
For some quick info on worms...
Real name: Eisenia fetida
Nicknames: Compost worm, manure worm, tiger worm
Hobby: Eating! In ideal conditions, they can consume at least half as much food as they weigh daily.
Favorite meals: Decaying organic material, but please no butter, oil, salad containing salad dressing, eggs (although they love crushed egg shells), hot peppers, salt, plastic, synthetic materials or insecticides.
Excels at: Producing nutrient-rich castings beloved by gardeners.
Signature kung fu move: Can exude a pungent liquid if roughly handled.
Likes: Moist bedding and a cardboard "blanket" it can also eat.
Dislikes: Sunlight – it kills.
Gender? Like their earthworm cousins, they are hermaphroditic and secrete cocoons containing several eggs, yet it still takes two worms to reproduce.
Life span: No one knows for sure. Some people say just a few months. Others say 10 years.
Finding red wigglers:
The California Integrated Waste Management Board's Web site also has a list of worm suppliers throughout the state.
Because they make tasty fish food, bait shops typically carry them. We found the worms at:
• P.J. Dunn Working Red Worms: 27395 N. Kennefick Road, Galt. (209) 712-3646. firstname.lastname@example.org
• The Placer Nature Center: 3700 Christian Valley Road., Auburn. (530) 878-6053.