Nightcrawlers Vs Earthworms

Nightcrawlers and earthworms are two different types of organisms that live in the ground both worms are often confused with each other because they share many similarities, such as what they eat, their size, and their reproduction cycle and put on a hook that will catch many different types of fish. What are the differences between Nightcrawlers Vs Earthworms?


Are Nocturnal
Have a fatter segmented body
Color- brownish/grey
Up to 14 inches long
Nightcrawler prefers rotting or decomposed animal matter


Are Diurnal
Have an unsegmented thinner Body
Color-white/light tan
Size-few inches to a foot long
Eat mostly dead plants and decaying leaves


The one common thing, that nightcrawlers and earthworms together have in common is natural predators, including birds, frogs, toads, snakes, and certain mammals like moles and shrews. These predators feed on worms as a part of their diet.

Nightcrawlers Vs Earthworms


Nightcrawlers, scientifically known as Lumbricus terrestris, are large worms that belong to the family Lumbricidae. These worms are typically found in temperate regions and are known for their burrowing capabilities.

Nightcrawlers can grow up to 14 inches long and have a cylindrical body with a smooth exterior. The worms possess a dark reddish-brown color and are commonly active at night, hence the name “nightcrawlers.”

Earthworms, also known as Oligochaeta, belong to the phylum Annelida. They are segmented worms with cylindrical body and a slimy exterior. Earthworms can vary in size, ranging from a few inches to a foot long, depending on the species.

Unlike night crawlers, earthworms are active during the daytime and can be found burrowing through the soil in the earth. These worms inhabit a wide range of environments, like forests, gardens, and agricultural fields.

They prefer moist soil conditions and can tolerate a slightly wider range of pH levels compared to nightcrawlers. These adaptable creatures help to enhance soil fertility and structure through their burrowing activities and nutrient-rich castings that they leave behind.

Nightcrawlers and Earthworms can coexist happily in the same habitat, as they have different feeding habits and occupy various soil layers. They often complement each other in promoting soil health and nutrient cycling.

When it comes time for reproduction, both types of worms engage in what’s called “self-fertilization,” meaning they produce offspring without mating with another worm aka not having sex. Earthworms do this by forming cocoons around fertilized eggs which stay inside them until they hatch into baby worms. They’re born male or female worms, but when grow up, they become male again if they come into contact with a male wormwor female worms.

On the other hand, nightcrawlers reproduce by laying eggs in wet soil, which need to be fertilized (think of it like having sex) before they hatch into baby worms. This is because nightcrawlers don’t have any male genitals, so what’s called “cross-fertilization” has to take place for their offspring to grow up and turn into adults!


Composting Nightcrawlers Earthworm: Red Worms Wigglers


Nightcrawlers have numerous advantages that they add to your garden, promoting healthy plant growth. Although they love unconfined places, it is okay to use nightcrawlers to do worm composting.

  • Nightcrawlers Are Nocturnal-Earthworms Are Diurnal

This is the significant difference between these two worms! Nightcrawlers are nocturnal, meaning they go out hunting at night. Earthworms are diurnal and prefer to come out during the daytime (though you can find them outside of their homes in your garden any time). Nightcrawlers are a group of earthworms that feed above the ground at night. Nightcrawlers are more robust and have thicker bodies.

Nightcrawlers and red worms eat garden insects in forest soils. This means that if you have a composting system set up for your worm farm, it’s essential to know what type of worm lives inside before adding food after dark or before sunrise. Jumping worms look similar to red wiggler worms but are smaller.

  • Nightcrawlers Have A Segmented Body-Earthworms Have An Unsegmented Body:

Nightcrawlers are segmented, meaning they have different sections to their bodies. On the other hand, Earthworms do not have a segmented body and instead just one long part with no divisions between each area of the worm’s body.

  • Night Crawler Vs. Earthworm: Size

The average size for an adult nightcrawler ranges from 1 to 2 inches long with a diameter of about 3/8 inch; the average size for an adult earthworm ranges from 2 to 6 inches long with a diameter of about 1/2 inch. Thus, earthworms are longer but thinner than nightcrawlers. The difference is that they have no segments on their body, so there aren’t as many divisions between each section of their body as a nightcrawler has with its different areas.

  • Color

Nightcrawlers have a brownish-grey color, while earthworms appear white or light tan. There are also some differences in texture since nightcrawlers feel slimier or slippery because it gets wetter when it rains, which makes them easier to find on the ground after dark outside your house! If you pick up either worm, earthworms will be more squishy, while nightcrawlers will feel a little bit harder.

  •  Food

Earthworms eat mostly organic dead plants and decaying leaves from trees, shrubs, grasses, etc., but they also feed on the roots of living plants that grow underground, which is where most nutrients derive from. This organic diet allows them to make fertilizer for soil with their castings (aka poop) which benefits farmers or gardeners! The nightcrawler prefers rotting or decomposed animal matter like meat scraps, fish heads & bones, as well as bird droppings and cat litter. It’s easy to spot these guys in your backyard after dark because worms come out at night time when it’s cooler outside.


Nightcrawlers are the perfect little helpers when it comes to composting. Why?

Not all worms work the same inside an organic composter. Composting with worms, known as vermicomposting, needs the right type of worm to function optimally. Research shows that vermicompost is more abundant in nutrients and helpful microbes than traditional compost due to the castings the worms leave behind as they process organic waste material.

While the small Red Wiggler worm (Eisenia Fetida) is a top choice for vermicomposting, the ability of a worm to digest its body weight in material each day means many people turn to the larger nightcrawler to speed up the process.

Next, are common nightcrawler species with a bit of information about each one and whether or not they are suitable for composting.


European nightcrawlers are a good choice for nightcrawlers and composting. This species has similar characteristics to the Red Wiggler worms in that they love to eat, and are more hearty when it comes to fluctuating conditions within the composter.

Since this compost species is three times larger than the Red Wigglers worms, you can expect them to process a more substantial amount of material daily.

But if you want to compost, pass on this species because they are a poor choice as a composting worm.

Canadian nightcrawlers like to live deep in the soil, are slow to reproduce, are finicky when it comes to maintenance, and aren’t voracious eaters. For a composting bin, the personality of this worm won’t produce the results you want.


African nightcrawlers do well in compost bins. The worm prefers the warmer temperatures inside a composter, where its thinner skin is more protected.

The African nightcrawlers eat more and therefore process more material and produce more castings when temperatures are 70 degrees or above.

These worms create batch after batch of rich worm castings, which you can use in your garden or sell to other gardeners.


Alabama Jumper Worms- For those looking for a nightcrawler to add to an outdoor compost pile, consider the Alabama Jumper. These worms are best when it comes to aeration as the nightcrawlers move through the compost pile.

While they prefer to burrow deep in the soil, they willingly come to the surface to eat up leaf litter, food scraps, and other yard waste. These worms should stick around as long as you keep a steady supply of food available within your compost pile.


What Do You Feed Nightcrawlers?

What Wild Nightcrawlers eat:

Microorganisms & dead insects in the soil
Decaying Fruits and vegetables
Leaves, grass, flowers & other decaying plant matter
Fungi & Algae

What Nightcrawlwers in captivity eat:

Fruit and vegetable scraps
Dry garden leaves
Tea bags, coffee grounds & Moldy bread ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Read more


Earthworms Outweigh the Benefits of Nightcrawlers In Your  Worm Garden



One benefit of having Earthworms instead of Nightcrawlers in your garden is that they can handle a much more extensive range of conditions than nightcrawlers, so you’ll find them on every continent except Antarctica. They are also more aggressive eaters than nightcrawlers because their diet includes soil, making it hard for them to starve even when food is scarce.

Earthworms provide the perfect natural fertilizer and worm castings have been shown to increase plant growth by up to 40%.  If you are looking for a way to improve the health of your plants in gardens without using harsh chemicals, then Earthworms might be what you need.


What is the Best Way to Catch Nightcrawlers for Fishing?

  • Catch at night in cool temp.
  • During a rain shower or try to simulate a rain shower
  • Avoid high grass
  • Use a flashlight with a red lens at the nightcrawler’s hole
  • Keep them cool-store in a fridge
  • Don’t overfill the container

Best Method to Use:

  • Dish Detergent Method
  • Worm Grunt Method
  • Worm Tazer Method
  • Walnut Tea Method ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Read more



well you know the answer to this “There is no better bait than a big fat wiggling Nightcrawler hanging off a hook suspended from a bobber drifting in current past a rainbow trout or largemouth bass”




What is the Best Hook for Nightcrawlers?

The best hook to use for a nightcrawler is an Aberdeen hook or bait holder hook in sizes 4 through 8, thread on a nightcrawler or worm using different methods like the Standard or Sock baiting method depending on the size of the worm ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor


References: Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm-Earthworms vs Nightcrawlers



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