Can Compost Worms Survive Winter?

  • By: Sam Richards
  • Date: October 23, 2020
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Taking care of compost worms can be an overwhelming process, especially if you are a beginner. Among others, one of the most important concerns would be the environment where they grow. The temperature is a crucial factor that will influence their survival.

Can compost worms survive winter? If you are curious, read on, and we’ll let you know the answer. We’ll also talk about some of the best things to do to make sure that worms will thrive in the composting bin once the temperature starts to drop.

Will Compost Worms Survive the Cold?

Yes, compost worms can survive winter! However, this is the case only if you engage in proactive measures to create the ideal habitat. The body temperature of worms will be largely affected by their environment, so you need to do something to make sure that they will thrive even as it gets cold.

Worms have natural instincts. They have natural resilience, which will help them survive adverse environmental conditions. However, this does not mean that you can just leave them outdoors to freeze in the winter. To let them survive, you need to do something.

The Ideal Temperature for Worms

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, the best outside temperature for composting would range from 55 to 77 degrees. When the temperature outside is within that range, which is usually the case in the winter, worms can suffer. It can slow their growth and reproduction. Worst, it can also kill worms, especially if it gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Below, we’ll talk about some of the things that can happen to the composting worms in the winter:

  • Compost will Become Dry: Even if it is raining and when it is cold, the humidity of the compost will drop.
  • Organic Material Breaks Down Longer: From food to paper, it will take a longer time for them to decompose compared to the rate at which they break down in the summer months.
  • Increased Presence of Pests: Ants, cockroaches, and spiders, among other pests, will be present in the composting bin as it gets too cold. Often, this is a result of the two things mentioned above.

How to Make Worms Survive Winter

With a little effort and time to spare, it is possible to make your composting worms survive winter. Below are some of the most important things to do:

  • Find shelter to protect the worms from the wind and rain. If the bin is lightweight, find a way to secure it in position so that it will not be blown by the wind. See to it that there is an opening at the bottom, which will let rainwater pass through. It is best to find an area with shade so that rainwater will not flood your composting bin.
  • Look for warm surfaces when thinking of the perfect location for the composting bin. Bricks, rock, and concrete are some of the best surfaces, especially because they can absorb heat during the day.
  • Reduce the number of scraps you are giving the worms as food. If they eat too much, they will be more sluggish. When they are in a cold environment, they need to be moving, which will help in generating heat to keep the worms warm.
  • Maintain the right moisture level. The drop in the temperature can cause the soil to dry. Spray water to keep the bedding moist. Laying a cloth on the top of the food scraps is another easy way to keep the soil moist.
  • Bring the composting bin indoors. This is perhaps the most logical way to prevent the worms from freezing. If you have a basement, this is one of the best places to keep the worms, making sure that they will not freeze. A heater garage or utility room will also be good places to keep the worms warm.
  • Adding insulation is another promising way to trap heat and prevent the worms from being too cold. Insulating the soil is possible by adding a layer of mulch or covering the top of the compost with a tarp.


In sum, it is possible for worms to survive in winter. They are naturally resilient and they use their instinct to adapt to the external environment, especially when it gets cold. However, worms can only do so much. The conditions of the compost will be affected, the reproduction rate will slow down, and worms can die! With all these things, it is crucial to have a proactive approach when managing the compost bin to ensure the survival of worms.

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