The Role of Insects and Other Critters in Composting

Composting is a natural and simple way to turn organic matter into nutrient-rich soil for gardening.

But did you know that insects and other critters play a crucial role in the composting process?

As a home and garden enthusiast with years of experience in horticulture and landscaping, I know firsthand the importance of a balanced ecosystem in composting.

In this blog post, I will share with you the types of insects and critters commonly found in compost and their specific roles in the decomposition process.

By the end of this post, you will have a greater appreciation of the role of insects and critters in composting and how you can support a healthy and diverse ecosystem in your own compost bin.

Let’s dive right in.

Types of Insects and Critters in Composting

Are you curious about the various types of insects and critters that are found in your compost? You might be surprised to learn how many different species are present and how much they contribute to the process!

Some of the most common insects and critters found in compost include:

  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Centipedes
  • Earwigs
  • Mites
  • Millipedes
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Springtails
  • Termites

Each of these species plays a unique role in breaking down organic matter and transforming it into nutrient-rich compost that can help your garden thrive.

For example, ants are skilled decomposers and are particularly helpful in breaking down tough plant material like stalks and stems. Beetles, on the other hand, are known for their voracious appetites and can quickly consume large quantities of organic waste.

Centipedes and millipedes are valuable contributors as well, thanks to their ability to aerate the soil and speed up the decomposition process. Meanwhile, springtails and mites are responsible for breaking down organic matter into smaller pieces, making it easier for other organisms to further decompose the material.

Of course, this is just a small sampling of the many insects and critters you might encounter in your compost. Regardless of the specific species you encounter, it’s important to appreciate their contributions and create a welcoming environment that supports a diverse range of organisms.

By providing plenty of organic matter, moisture, and oxygen to your compost pile, you can create a thriving ecosystem that encourages insects and critters to do what they do best: break down organic matter and transform it into nutrient-rich compost that can help your garden thrive.

Decomposition Process

Composting is a natural process that involves the decomposition of organic matter into nutrient-rich soil. The decomposition process occurs in several stages.

In the first stage of decomposition, the organic matter is broken down by microorganisms, and insects such as springtails and mites play an important role in this process by breaking down larger organic molecules into smaller ones. The smaller molecules are then more readily available for microorganisms to feast on.

In the second stage, larger insects such as beetles and termites play a key role in breaking down the decomposed organic matter into smaller particles. This process increases the surface area of the matter, which makes it more available for the microorganisms to digest.

Earthworms play a pivotal role in the third stage of decomposition. They consume and digest the nutrient-rich soil, breaking it down further. The process of digestion by earthworms creates channels in the soil, allowing air and moisture to penetrate deeper into the compost heap.

In the final stage of decomposition, the organic matter is broken down into soil. The finished product is rich in nutrients, microorganisms, and beneficial insects.

Insects and other critters play an essential role in each stage of the decomposition process. When you have a balanced ecosystem in your compost, an array of insects and microorganisms work together to create nutrient-rich soil for your plants.


Earthworms are crucial for the composting process. They help to break down organic matter and speed up the decomposition process. If you are composting at home, it is important to have a healthy population of earthworms in your compost bin.

I recommend adding earthworms to your compost bin if they are not already present. You can purchase them at your local garden store or online.

The benefits of having earthworms in your compost bin are numerous. They improve soil structure and aeration, as well as increase water infiltration. Earthworms also help to break down organic matter into simple nutrients that plants can absorb.

If you are worried about your compost pile becoming too acidic, earthworms can help. They help to balance the pH level of the compost, which is important for the growth of healthy plants.

In addition to their benefits in composting, earthworms are also beneficial for your garden soil. They help to improve soil health by increasing the level of organic matter and nutrients in the soil.

Overall, earthworms play a vital role in the composting process. They work diligently to break down organic matter and turn it into nutrients that plants can use to grow. Adding earthworms to your compost bin can help to speed up the process and produce nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

Centipedes and Millipedes

Centipedes and millipedes are often found in compost piles and play an important role in ensuring the health of the soil. They are particularly helpful in promoting soil aeration which helps ensure that nutrients are able to penetrate the soil and reach the roots of plants.

If you find these creatures in your compost pile, leave them there! They are helping to break down your organic matter and enriching your soil.

Centipedes and millipedes require a moist environment to thrive, so it’s important to keep the moisture levels in your compost pile in check. Too much moisture can lead to mold and other uninvited guests in your compost pile, so make sure to maintain a healthy balance.

In addition to their soil aeration benefits, centipedes and millipedes also help to break down larger organic matter that other critters may not be able to handle. They help decompose leaves, sticks, and other debris in your compost pile, allowing for faster composting.

Overall, centipedes and millipedes play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem in your compost pile. By providing them with the right conditions, you can encourage their growth and help them thrive.

Springtails and Mites

If you take a closer look at compost, you’ll find that it’s teeming with tiny creatures that are essential for its success. Two of the smallest and most abundant inhabitants of compost are springtails and mites.

Springtails are tiny six-legged creatures that are a type of hexapod (an organism with six legs). They’re named for a special appendage on their abdomen, which can be rapidly extended, propelling them through the air. Likewise, mites are also known by their size, with many of them being no larger than a pinhead.

But, what role do these creatures play in the composting process? The answer is quite simple: They act as decomposers, breaking down organic matter and turning it into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

Springtails and mites eat fungi, bacteria, and other tiny organic particles, helping to break them down into smaller and smaller pieces. This makes it easier for larger decomposers to finish the job, speeding up the overall composting process.

While they may be small, springtails and mites are incredibly important for compost, as they help to break down and decompose plant matter, which is essential for the health and vitality of plants.

An abundance of springtails and mites in compost is a good sign that your compost is healthy and thriving. So, if you’re composting at home, don’t panic if you see these tiny creatures crawling around in your compost pile! You’re actually doing something right.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, insects and other critters are vital to the composting process, contributing to the breakdown of organic matter and the creation of nutrient-rich soil.

As home and garden enthusiasts, we can play an important role in supporting a balanced ecosystem in our compost by embracing the many insects and critters that play a part in the process.

So, which insect or critter are you most excited to learn more about and see in action in your compost pile?

Let me know by sending me a message!

And if you found this post helpful, please share it on social media to help others learn about the critical role of insects and other critters in composting.

Author: Scott Sanders


All the information on this website - - is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Planet 997 does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (Planet 997), is strictly at your own risk. Planet 997 will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.

From our website, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone 'bad'.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their "Terms of Service" before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

By using our website, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but we will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us keep going!
Copyright © 2023 Planet 997