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Talkback: Insects on compost heaps

The two giant compost bins in our garden (thanks, Stroud Council!) doing fine. But imagine the surprise last summer when I discovered at least three grass snakes in there. This spring, whilst taking the bin apart, I found what I had hoped to find: remnants of egg casings from the snakes. In a recent programme on the Baltic states it was mentioned that these snakes were venerated and worshiped there. I feel privileged.


  • It is amusing to see adverts and articles extolling the benefits of compost making, and illustrating the animals which are found in compost bins - but omitting any mention of insects, these seem to be the most prominent life associated with our compost heaps. I suppose insects are not normally a polite subject?
    When does it seem sensible to stop adding to a compost heap and start another? Clearly a heap which appears full can be a foot lower in a few days, like a magic porridge pot in reverse, in fact.
  • Hi. I have just read all about Insects on a compost heap, and I would like to add that for the last 3/4 years my compost has been infested with wood lice, and I mean infested!Thousands of them. I have moved the compost site 4 times and still the blighters multiply. Can I use this compost? I'm worried the wood lice will eat my plants. Would this be the case? I would point out that we have several very large fir and silver birch trees in the garden.

    Regarda Angela Alden
  • Just got another compost bin today given to us by a friend our first one has some lovely usable compost in it at the moment which we've been using to grow potatoes in. We didn't want to add anything else to it so the weekend grass clippings can start off the new one. We're going to compost cardboard in this one as well. We have noticed the wildlife in the first one and along with frequent turning the stuffs composted in no time at all.We also added the odd bucket of pond water with algae and duck weed in it, keeping it moist certainly helps.
  • Don't worry about the egg shells, they will help keep the slugs at bay!
  • Hi, I have an ant colony in my compost bin, should I be bothered, can I add more materials in. Desperate. Glasgow
  • Is there anything that we can do to attract insects that contribute most to the composting process into the bin?
  • For many years my husband and I have had two large compost bins. This year I emptied the 2006/7 bin. The 2007/2008 bin will stay until next year. We also have a large open container for autumn leaves which are transferred out into the next years new compost bin, but save some for the next year to put around azaleas and rhododendrons, who seem to love the leaf mould. Our bins have fruit flies, woodlice, slugs and various other insects. The leaf bin frogs love.
  • I need help i have something eating my runner beans and dont no wot to do, allso blackfly
  • Don't worry about the woodlice, they are doing the composting and performing a valuable service for you. Despite a supposed reputation for nibbling seedlings, woodlice feed mainly on dead and decaying matter, so what better place for them than the compost bin.
  • I'm used to all sorts of bugs in both my plastic compost bins but now I have a RAT!! I only compost garden rubbish and vegetable household waste but it seems to like fruit and veg - a vegetarian rat obviously. How do I get rid of it -anyone any helpful ideas? Sure I never got them in my old wooden bin.
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