The Nightcrawler Diet – What To Feed Nightcrawlers

Last Updated on June 27, 2021 by Jeffery

There are a variety of reasons you would want to keep Nightcrawlers around. From fishing to gardening to animal feed, they are truly multipurpose. Also known as ‘the grunt worm’, their main purpose when it comes to industrial worm farming is for fish hook bait. They are the ideal worm for this. However, some people like to use them in their gardens, composting or just simply as a pet. So what to feed nightcrawlers to keep them happy and healthy?

TL;DR for skimmers

Nightcrawlers are decomposers. They eat other invertebrates, decaying plant matter, and fungi. These types of organisms break down food into its constituent parts so that it can be absorbed by whatever eats them next in the food chain.

What do nightcrawlers eat?

Just like our friendly neighborhood earthworm, night-crawlers enjoy a wide variety of decomposing organic matter. the average night crawler diet consists of:

  • Decomposing veggies
  • Decomposing fruit
  • Decomposing plant matter
  • Fungi
  • Other microorganisms
  • Lard & Cornmeal

The typical diet for nightcrawlers in captivity consists of pig and chicken mash mixed with shortening or lard. You can also add cornmeal into that mixture. Generally though, for home worm keepers that aren’t on an industrial scale it’s not a wise idea to give meats to your worms. In large scale operations you can assume all the meat will get eaten before it has a chance to decay and poison the soil. There is no guarantee for this at home.

So, if you are just intending to feed night-crawlers at home for fishing, consider a simple diet of moldy bread, fruit and veggie skins. The food you give your crawler should be nice and moist so the worm is able to eat and digest it. If you intend on keeping one as a dear pet and wish it to have a longer, healthier life span, Consider diversifying his diet a bit.

How often should I feed nightcrawlers?

This will take a little trial and error based on your nightcrawlers size, species, weight and the amount you have in the container. Add small amounts of the above mentioned foods slowly at first. If they don’t eat it all within 2 days, Lower the amount you feed them. If they consumed it all before or in 2 days, Add more.

Keep doing this until you find the correct amount of food for your particular night crawlers. Keep in mind that if you are breeding your crawlers, as the population increases so will the foot consumption, so adjust accordingly!

Worms eat more during the warmer summer months. If the area you keep your worms in is not climate controlled, don’t be surprised if they start eating less food during the colder months of the year.

Do I have to bury the food?

No you do not have to bury food for nightcrawlers. They live in permanent tunnels and will come to the surface to collect food and bring it back down to their burrows. Interestingly enough, you will rarely see a nightcrawler come all the way out of its tunnel.


If you are just looking at what to feed nighcrawlers in a home setting, Fruit, Veggies, Cornmeal, and various plant litter. If on an industrial scale, The University of Langston has a great lard cornmeal mixture.