Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Worm Lesson

with 2 comments

Yesterday I learned something that surprised me, especially for the extent of time —basically, my lifetime— about which I have been clueless. I assumed earthworms were native to my region and entirely beneficial. They provide food for our birds and other critters, and they aerate and enrich the soil.

Invasive EarthwormsAu contraire! I spotted an article in the sports section of a local newspaper aiming to educate people who fish about not dumping their leftover angle worms on the ground. Worms should be disposed of in the trash.

Why? First of all, the terrestrial earthworms are a non-native invasive species from Europe and Asia! I had no idea. Second, they are harming our hardwood forests. They actually disrupt the natural decomposition of leaf litter on the forest floor and turn good soil into grainy, dry worm castings (poop), which then can’t support the understory plants of our forests.

Apparently, they are welcome to help in my compost pile, but they are not friendly to our woods. Up at our lake place in Hayward, WI, our favorite flowering woodland plant on the forest floor is the trillium. Around Memorial day at the end of May, when we head up for “work-weekend” to open up the property for the summer, we often find a carpet of white blossoms covering the ground.

IMG_2269eCynI have dreamed of seeing the same thing occur in our woods at Wintervale, but we can’t find hardly any here. Cyndie spotted one all by itself recently with 3 blossoms, capturing this shot with her cell phone.

According to the literature I have reviewed, trillium is one of the plants that is lost to the earthworms.

All of my life I have assumed that earthworms were a good thing. I’m afraid I will no longer think of them the same way at all. I would much rather have a thick, healthy layer on our forest floor that could support a robust undergrowth, than a dry, leafless surface of worm poo.

Anglers, contain those crawlers!











Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2015 at 6:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. If I have any left over earthworms, I always just toss them in the lake, unless I plan to go fishing again before they die, then I bring them home with me. I’ve dug up worms out of the soil to go fishing, but it’s just so much easier to buy them! LOL!

    I figure when I toss them in the lake, something is bound to eat them. And for the fish, it’s probably nice to have one now and then that doesn’t have a hook in it.


    May 8, 2015 at 9:28 am

    • I’ve been finding some large worms in my composting manure piles. Maybe I should be offering them for sale to people going fishing.
      Feeding fish hook-less worms is cunning. A way to encourage them it seems, for future occasions when there might be a hook awaiting. 🙂


      May 8, 2015 at 10:42 pm

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