Although these critters may not seem useful in the eyes of your children, the following compost bugs are just that-beneficial. Actually, we'd even go one step further and say that these bugs are absolutely essential to your compost pile and garden soil. They're all part of what we refer to as the Soil Food Web.
Remember the golden rule...Nature doesn't make mistakes. All of her creatures, big and small, serve a very specific purpose (most of which we'll never know). Therefore, if you see these bugs in your compost pile, rest assured it's for a very good reason.
The next time your kids are helping you turn the compost pile and they start making a fuss over the millipedes, try the following: Take a deep breath (this is always a good idea when emotions start to rise), comfort them, and then use the following information to help them foster a new love and appreciation for these adorable little compost bugs.
Before we introduce the line-up of the most common compost critters, it's important we mention the following...the number of bugs you'll see in a compost pile will vary depending on the composting technique you're using. That is, the more passive your composting method (e.g. static composting), the more variety of critters you'll tend to observe. Whereas the more active your composting method (e.g. dynamic composting), the less variety of bugs you'll see.
Active composting generates a lot of heat during the initial breakdown phases and most bugs are not attracted to such conditions. On the other hand, since passive composting methods don't tend to generate as much heat, bugs are more prone to be found in these systems. That is not to say, you'll never find these bugs in an active compost system, you'll just tend to see less of them...at least until the pile cools down.
On the topic of bug visibility, please note that most compost bugs will be found near the surface of your pile...with one slippery exception...worms.
Sowbugs aka woodlouse, pillbug, roly-poly, potato bug
Click the image above to learn how composting worms make an ideal learning tool for teaching your kids about composting. Worm bins provide an indoor living example of a composting system. They're great for schools, classrooms, and homes.
If you're interested in learning an easy way to trap and examine the bugs in your compost pile, please download the free bug trapping guide that we've created for you and your children.
Do you have a photo of a compost bug that you'd like to share? Or maybe you would like us to help you identify a bug in your compost pile. If so, please send it in!
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