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How to find worms

How to find worms

Earthworms make great fishing bait, and they also speed up composting. Maybe you are tired of using artificial lures or over-paying for small quantities at the bait shop. Or perhaps you’ve decided to start composting kitchen scraps. Adding European Night Crawlers or Red Worms to the composting bin will make the waste break down faster. Either way, you can catch the worms yourself or get them cheaper online.

Types of Worms

First, you want to figure out which types of worms to catch. There are around 182 taxa of earthworms in North America. Of these, two are especially useful:

  • The European Night Crawler is called Eisenia hortensis or Dendrobaena veneta in Latin. This earthworm grows to 6 inches long. They grow to the diameter of a pencil. It has a bluish, pink-grey color with bands or stripes. The end of its tail might be pale yellow or cream. At Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we call them “Super Reds.” These are especially good for fishing because they continue to wiggle for quite a while on the hook underwater.
  • The smaller Red Worms are also known as red wiggler worms, manure worms, panfish worm, brandling worms, tiger worms, trout worms, tiger worms, red Californian earth worms, and Eisenia fetida. Red Worms are smaller and thinner than European Night Crawlers. These champion composting worms are ideally suited to turning waste kitchen scraps into finished compost quickly.

Get Ready for Worms

When you get ready to go worm hunting, prepare a container with holes in the lid or a bucket. Add an inch or two of soil. You will place any worms you catch on top of the soil. The bucket will get them home.

If you plan to use the worms for fishing right away, you won’t need a permanent home for them. A Styrofoam cooler with some dirt and bedding in the bottom will do. However, for a renewable supply of fishing worms or for composting, you will need a worm bin. You can make a worm bin out of a tote. Or, buy a composting bin online. Follow our instructions for adding worm bedding and finding a good location for the worms.

Where to Find European Night Crawlers

The European Night Crawler loves garden soil and lawns. It can also be found in dead plant material on the forest floor. And, they like decaying material such as manure. They tend to live deeper in the soil than Red Worms. These worms can burrow down up to 6.5 feet! But don’t worry, we will explain how to find them without digging a deep trench.

Where to Find Red Worms

Red worms are called “manure worms” for a reason. In case digging up manure isn’t your thing, look for decaying plant material. They tend to stay close to the surface, or sometimes on top of the ground. They also enjoy lawns and gardens.

Catch Worms Using Cardboard

The easiest and most passive worm-catching method involves brown corrugated cardboard. Moisten a large sheet of cardboard with a hose or watering can. Place it on the ground overnight. In the morning, lift the cardboard. You will find plenty of worms! The worms are attracted to the yummy cardboard (see our article “Can I Feed Cardboard to My Worms“?)

Catch Worms During and After Rain

There are several reasons worms come to the surface when it rains hard. Their tunnels fill up with water. They breathe through their skin. If the tunnels become blocked, they will suffocate. Additionally, worms can move easily on the surface, but they need to stay moist. The wet ground is fine for traveling, even at risk of getting scooped up by a bird — or by a worm hunter!

Put on your waterproof boots and rain slicker. You will soon gather a batch of worms.

Dig Up Worms

Got a year-round stream nearby? Look for fallen leaves and other decaying matter on the bank. Worms will likely hang out there. Dig into the soil or mud with a shovel. Also look under logs and rocks. In the woods, use a rake to overturn the plant litter. These worms are sensitive to vibration so don’t stomp around.

Bad Advice

Several websites encourage you to pour noxious substances on the ground to draw worms to the surface. Others say that shocking the ground with a large battery will get those worms hopping. This is about as sporting as fishing with dynamite! Pouring soapy water on the ground could ruin your lawn or garden. Tasered worms won’t live as long. Use some elbow grease, and you will have a much healthier worm population.

How Many Worms?

If you need more than just a few days’ worth of fishing worms, you’ll want them to breed. This means providing a composting bin, feeding them, and occasionally harvesting the worm castings. Happy worms reproduce every three months. These types of worms can eat about half their weight in food each day. If you set up a worm bin, you will have both fishing worms and free fertilizer for your garden.

Don’t have the time and energy for worm hunting? Coming up empty handed? Can’t tell the difference between worms? Want to get lots of quality, live worms at low prices? Order 250, 500, 1000 or more worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.

How to find worms

Whether you're looking to save money on fish bait or collect worms to farm or sell, the methods discussed here can help you get started.

How to Catch Tons of Nightcrawlers (Earthworms)

Whether you're a fishing enthusiast looking to save on bait, an entrepreneur planning to sell worms for profit, or simply a lonely soul hoping to coax nightcrawlers out of the ground for their good company, there are a number of ways you can get earthworms to come to the surface.

In this article, we explore the top six methods you can use to find and catch worms. Each of these methods is discussed in greater detail in the sections below. Keep in mind that worm-catching is only likely to be successful if there are plenty of worms where you are searching. If you're not catching any, move to a different area and try again.

6 Ways to Get Earthworms to Come to the Surface

  1. Electrocute Them With a Car Battery
  2. Grunt for Them With Wood and Metal
  3. Coax Them Out of the Ground With Water
  4. Soap Them Out of the Ground
  5. Irritate Them Out of the Ground With Mustard Powder
  6. Catch Them Under Wood or Cardboard

1. Electrocute Them With a Car Battery

Apparently, worms hate being electrocuted as much as any living thing, which is why this method really does work.

Supplies Needed

  • Car battery
  • Two long metal rods
  • Jumper cables
  • Rubber-soled boots

Instructions

  1. Pound the metal rods 2–3 feet into the ground.
  2. Using the rubber grips on the jumper cables, attach them to the car battery.
  3. Using the rubber grips on the other end of the jumper cables, attach them to the metal rods in the ground.
  4. The worms should come up to get away from the electricity underground.
  5. Once you notice a decline in worms coming to the surface, move to a different area and repeat until you have as many worms as you need. See the video below for more information.

Safety Note

Electricity is dangerous. The method discussed above should only be used by adults with experience. Work slowly, take all possible precautions, and ensure there are no children or animals in the area when handling car batteries and jumper cables.

2. Grunt for Them With Wood and Metal

It may sound silly, but grunting for worms is a serious business in some parts of the world, and there are even competitions dedicated solely to the craft of worm grunting. While you may not be a grunting champion right away, you should be able to get a few worms to pop out of the ground, and you'll likely improve with practice and experimentation.

People fashion all sorts of tools for worm grunting, and everyone has their own preference. The basic idea behind grunting is to rub a flat piece of metal across the top surface of a longer piece of wood that's been hammered into the ground. Experiment with materials and sizes, and see what gives you the best results. See the video below for more information.

3. Coax Them Out With Water

Worms have sensors that allow them to feel vibrations. They know when predators are close by, and they know when it's raining. Earthworms love to come out of the ground after the rain because they don't have to worry about drying out, and they can move about much easier when it's wet.

How to find worms

Earthworms are valuable and silent gardeners. They help aerate the soil and provide moisture to the ground with its intricate tunneling system. On top of that, we also collect earthworms for fishing bait and composting. You can get them from your local gardening store or online, but knowing where to find worms in your own backyard can save you the trouble of purchasing. We’ll learn how to find earthworms in a few easy steps!

The Two Types Of Earthworms

When you are ready to hunt for worms, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them first before digging. Knowing the different types can help us in learning how to find earthworms based on their nature and habitat:

  • Red Worms are your usual common earthworms. These squirmy critters are smaller and thinner than Night Crawlers. These are the best worms for your garden and compost bin. They like to live underground and can stay there for their entire life. They can grow up to three inches and are reddish-purple in color. They are usually found in animal manure or decaying plant material. They are usually found in lawns and gardens. You don’t need to dig deep enough as they usually stay close to the surface and sometimes on top of the ground.
  • Night Crawlers can grow up to fourteen inches long. They love to surface at night. These are bluish to grayish in color. Night Crawlers are usually used as fishing bait because they continue to wiggle for a period on the hook even underwater. They also love gardens and lawns but are mostly attracted to dead plants.

Both worms can be found on moist earth. They tend to move upward during spring when the ground is moist. Find moist earth! This is the best place to find earthworms. When it is winter, Red Worms tend to live in the upper layer of soil and wouldn’t burrow deep. For good measure, they lay eggs in tiny sacs that will not freeze. Night Crawlers love to burrow deep underground. They can burrow as deep as six and a half feet, to avoid snow and ice.

By understanding their behavior and knowing how or where they thrive, you will soon know how to find worms in your own backyard.

When To Catch Earthworms

If you want to know how to find earthworms, you also need to know when to catch them. They love the moisture found in their tunnels, but if it rains, they tend to go up because their tunnels fill up with rainwater. They need to get out quickly, or else they will suffocate. Once out and about, they will squirm around the wet ground.

It’s best to find worms when it rains. If you’re not keen to put your raincoat on, you can also hunt for worms after it rains.

Where To Find Earthworms

Earlier, we mentioned that worms love the moist ground. But if you have a wide patch of land and are unsure how to find earthworms in a large area, we can teach you where to find earthworms best.

  • Look for fallen and decaying leaves.
  • Look for a nearby water source, and worms are usually nearby.
  • Look under rocks and logs.
  • Sometimes they are under large tree roots.

When you touch the ground with your bare hand, and it feels cool and moist, most likely, an earthworm is living there.

How To Catch Earthworms

Are you ready to catch worms? Here are a few tips and tricks you can try!

  • Use a large sheet of brown corrugated cardboard. Moisten it with water and place it on the ground overnight. You are going to find a bunch of worms loving the moisture the next morning. They love cardboard!
  • You can soap the ground with a liquid soap and water mixture. This is a less ideal method as it may ruin plants and trickle down the nearest water source unless you use eco-friendly soaps. Make sure to use environmentally friendly and safe liquid soap. Mix water and liquid soap in water and pour over the ground. Worms will begin to go above ground as the soap will make it difficult for them to breathe. Once you use this method on one patch, make sure to let the ground breathe for a few weeks. Worms will tend to avoid that area because of the soap.
  • Worm grunting is a popular method and also a sport. You will need a wooden stake measuring two feet long with one flat end and one pointed end. Hammer the stake halfway into the ground. Using a hand saw or rooping iron, create vibrations by running it over the flat end of the stake. Worms will sense the vibrations and think that a predator is close by.

Conclusion

If you have a healthy backyard, you can be sure to owe the lush greens and blooming flowers to the vast silent workers tunneling beneath the earth every day. Whether you are going to use them as bait for fishing, as super scientists for your compost bin, or as pets for your worm tank, you can be sure that worms will always be there for your wormy needs. They reproduce every three months and thrive on dead leaves, vegetable peels, and the occasional animal poop. They’re pretty happy creatures as long as you give them moist soil and biodegradable kitchen scraps.

Now you know how to find earthworms and where to catch them. With a little patience and some elbow grease, you will have a bucket load of earthworms in no time. If your backyard is too dry or can’t find a nearby water source to hunt worms, you can always find worms online or at the nearest local gardening store. We hope you enjoy hunting for worms and catching them with this handy guide! Find out more about earthworms.

Worm Hunt!
Collecting and Observing Earthworms

Where will you find earthworms? They’re in garden soil, vacant lots, lawns, parks, or pastures. A cool, moist fall day or evening is a great time to look for worms. Humid days before rains, or during rain showers are especially good for collecting worms. Fall is the best time to sample worms because most are sexually mature, which helps you tell who’s who.

Bringing Up the Worms
USDA soil scientist Dr. Dennis Linden tells one way to find worms: First, look at the soil surface. Castings ("worm poop") are small piles or pellets of soil, often mixed with some plant litter. Castings are signs that earthworms are present. When you’ve found a likely spot for worms, dig a spadeful of soil and sort through it for earthworms. With experience, you may also find cocoons. While you are digging, always watch for evidence of large burrows with "slickened" walls. These may indicate the presence of night crawlers–the larger, deeper-burrowing earthworms.

Forest ecologist Cindy Hale gives directions for a method that will bring many of the deeper burrowing earthworms to the surface. How many different kinds of worms can you find in your study area?

  1. Measure off a square of soil about one foot on each side for your "study area." Use string or boards to make boundaries around the area.
  2. Dissolve 1/4 cup (about 40 grams) of ground yellow mustard seed (this is dry mustard powder from the spice section in the grocery store) in one gallon of water. Shake it up well. (Recipe adapted from the SCPFRC)
  3. Slowly pour the mustard solution over the soil inside the boundaries of your study area. Pour it so it soaks into the soil instead of running off the soil. The worms will start coming up. Don’t worry; while the mustard irritates their skin and makes them escape to the surface, it does not harm the worms.
  4. Pick up the worms with a forceps and put them right into a pan of fresh tap water to rinse off the mustard solution. Now you can take them out of the water, lay them on a wet paper towel, and use a magnifying glass for a closer look. Explain that the worms are "breathing" oxygen through their wet skin, so they must be kept moist at all times. Set out a few water misters for students to share. Explain that worms are fragile animals and can be hurt easily, so they must be handled with gentleness.
  1. Using a magnifying glass, count the rings or segments along the length of a wormís body. These segments help the worm to twist and wiggle forward or backward with the help of hair-like structures called setae (pronounced SET tay).
  2. If you place the worm in a plastic cup or on a petri dish, you can see the underside ( ventral side) or the worm. You will be able to see inside the worm, too. What can you see inside of the earthworm? Look for the heart and blood vessel. Look for the pulse, indicated by the vessel alternately swelling and contracting. Which direction is the blood flowing? How cold you take an earthworm’s pulse?
  3. Find the anterior or head end, which is more pointed and narrow. You can also place the worm on a rough piece of paper and see which direction it travels. The head end usually goes forward first.
  4. On the head end of the worm, find the clitellum , a whitish, swollen band that looks like a collar around the wormís middle.
  5. Count the segments from the head/mouth to the clitellum. This number is different in different species, so counting segments can help you know whether your worms are of different species.
  6. Look for the hair-like bristles called setae around or under the worm’s body. Worms use their setae to help crawl and also to grip and anchor themselves firmly in the ground. (Thatís why you see robins tugging to get worms out of the soil!) Are setae paired? How are they spaced around the body? What differences in setae patterns do you see?
  7. Look at the worm’s shape. Is it cylindrical or flattened?
  8. Look at the top (dorsal) and belly (ventral) side. Try turning the worm. A worm turned over will immediately right itself.
  9. Notice the worm’s color: brownish, reddish, or gray-blue, or pale or white. Pigmented worm species live at or near the surface of the soil in organic matter such as leaf litter or compost piles, but they may also burrow very deeply and feed at the surface on fresh litter. Nonpigmented worms live and feed in the soil, not at the surface. The litter-dwelling species help the soil-dwelling species because they work the organic matter into the soil where the soil-dwellers can eat it.
  10. Compare the worm’s movements on wet and dry surfaces and it s response to water, touch, and darkness.

After you study and compare the worms, place them where they can safely get back into the soil.

How to find worms

A. As a kid in the Midwest, I would dig them up in moist soil. I learned quickly that digging up the house yard would get me in big trouble with my parents, although that was often the easiest digging. Getting the bait was half the fun of fishing as a kid, but I take the easy way out these days and buy a dozen or two at the local tackle store for a few bucks. Less of a mess and it keeps me from getting grounded by my wife for tearing up the yard!

If you have a fishing question, you can click here to ask pro angler Tom Redington for an answer. He’ll respond to some of the questions on this website.

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4 Comments

As a kid, my friends and I used to pick nightcrawlers off neighborhood lawns, our high school football field, and at a local golf course. Only 4 or 5 nights work kept us in bait for the entire summer!

A good way to get night crawlers for free and without digging is “Grunting” which requires 2 people for ease. First find an area that is preferably wet or with damp soil if possible since it attracts more worms like near a lake bank or wet loan to increase your chances. Next get a smooth piece of wood preferably round and insert at least a foot in the ground and leave 2-4 inches on top. I use 2 or 3 long wooden skewers. Get a metal multi strand wire measuring 1 foot at least (like the one included in picture hanging kits ($1-2) and rub it against the wooden spikes vigorously and very soon (sometimes almost immediately) Night crawlers Will appear on the surface within several feet of the grunting. Depending on how strong the vibrations you create and sound you can have up to 15 foot radius of worms to pick. So 1 person grants and the other picks. As weird as this sounds there is a reason and this is how worms are collected and sold to bait shops. Night crawlers are extremely sensitive in detecting vibrations. So when you produce this they think it’s a mole digging near them looking for an easy meal so they attempt to escape. Actually this method was on TV on dirty jobs. I also tried in daylight and it works. The best time is after rain but you can still collect them year round. Hope this helps.

How to find worms

Project Zomboid

3 ноя. 2020 в 9:07
3 ноя. 2020 в 9:18
3 ноя. 2020 в 9:39
3 ноя. 2020 в 12:31

Foraging is the most direct answer yup, although it is tiring for the character.

Another option is the composter ; you find some worms inside when everything else is gone into compost. Hard part is to fill it. Overgrowing cabbages, overtrapping for meat should do the trick.

3 ноя. 2020 в 13:49
3 ноя. 2020 в 13:57
4 ноя. 2020 в 13:17

Man you can make a composter and wait til worms appear
I recommend that: first find rotten food (a lot), then lvl up carpentry at 4 (it’s easy to farm carpentry, read the book, pick a hammer and break beds, they gives you a lot of EXP), make the composter and wait like 1 or 2 weeks, i know it’s a lot of time and you need it now. If you want, you can make a sandbox game and change the composter time to make compost to 1 week or just a few days.

I don’t know other form of farm it, i hope it helps you

4 ноя. 2020 в 22:03

Man you can make a composter and wait til worms appear :cozybethesda:
I recommend that: first find rotten food (a lot), then lvl up carpentry at 4 (it’s easy to farm carpentry, read the book, pick a hammer and break beds, they gives you a lot of EXP), make the composter and wait like 1 or 2 weeks, i know it’s a lot of time and you need it now. If you want, you can make a sandbox game and change the composter time to make compost to 1 week or just a few days.

:damien:I don’t know other form of farm it, i hope it helps you:damien:

Earthworms are not regulated in Minnesota. They are monitored on Great Lakes Worm Watch.

How to find worms

How to identify earthworms

  • There are thousands of species of earthworms across the world. The species found across the Great Lakes region originated from Europe and Asia.
  • There are no native earthworms in Minnesota.
  • Adult earthworms are easier to identify than immature earthworms. Adults have a collar-like structure (called a “clitellum”) near the front of their bodies.
  • Earthworms are divided into three main groups by where they live within the soil: leaf litter dwellers, soil dwellers and deep burrowers.
  • Leaf litter dwellers are reddish-brown, small and usually less than 3 inches long when mature.
  • Soil dwellers live in the top 20 inches of soil.
    • They are light gray and sometimes have a pink head and range in size from 1 to 5 inches.

    Life cycle

    • Many earthworms are hermaphroditic but must have two worms cross-fertilize for reproduction.
    • Some species can reproduce on their own from an unfertilized egg.

    How to find worms

    Angle worms

    Aporrectodea, Octolasion spp.

    • Angle worms eat the duff layer on the ground in the hardwood forest, reducing the available composting material on the forest floor.
    • This change can limit native tree regeneration, improving soil habitat for some non-native species like buckthorn.

    How to identify angle worms

    • Soil dwelling, living in the top 15 to 20 inches of soil.
    • Pink-peach toned with a well-defined raised band (clitellum) lower on the body than jumping worms.

    Life cycle

    • Lifespan varies from annual to a few years, depending on the depth of ground freeze during winter.
    • Adults are killed by freezing.
    • Eggs in cocoons deposited in the soil during summer and fall will survive and hatch in the spring.

    How to find worms

    Jumping worms

    • Jumping worms live in the leaf litter and the top few inches of soil on the forest floor.
    • They do not burrow like other worms.
    • They change the soil texture to appear like coffee grounds, strip the soil of nutrients and can kill plants.

    How to identify jumping worms

    Jumping worms are surface and shallow-soil dwellers.

    They can be 1-1/2 to 8 inches or more in length.

    They are similar in size to nightcrawlers or some of the larger angle worms, but their clitellum (collar-like structure) and coloring are different.

    The clitellum is located 1/3 down the length of the worm from the head and it is smooth, cloudy-white and constricted.

    How to find worms

    Worms aren’t just for fishing bait anymore. The art of vermicomposting (using worms to produce compost) and vermiculture (raising and breeding worms) has reached new heights of popularity in recent times. Both environmentalists and gardeners (or anyone who is both) are finding them to be the cheapest, simplest, and space-efficient way to reduce garbage and create excellent gardening soil.

    Of course, the worms you use for composting aren’t the same ones you can likely dig up in your yard or garden. Earthworms or night crawlers (lumbricus terrestrius) are not usually used for vermiculture or composting because they do not breed or do well in captivity. Instead, the two major types of worms used are eisenia foetida and lumbricus rubellis. The two are commonly called red worms, red wigglers, or manure worms. They are smaller than most night crawlers, have a red color (often very bright), and do very well in captivity, breeding quickly.

    These worms are widely available and easy to come by. Most purchase them from a vermi-supplier for composting or similar use, but you can also often find them in some bait shops and fishing stores.

    Where to Buy Composting Worms

    The surest way to get the best quality vermicomposting worms is to purchase them from professional breeders. There are literally thousands of them selling online and off, so finding a local breeder may be possible and save you some postage. You don’t need too many worms to start, so postage is not usually too much regardless. Most sites sell worms by weight. Remember that one pound of worms is about 1,000 wigglers.

    Clean Air Gardening is an environmentally friendly lawn & garden online supply store. Find vermicomposting supplies, including composting worms, as well as any other composting or vermicomposting need.

    Red Worm Composting has a lot of information about vermicomposting on their site and worms available in various packages to suit your needs.

    Garden Worms is a professional outfit that sells the worms you’ll need plus a lot of books, kits, and gardening items as well.

    Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is a more country-style, laid back site with a lot of vermicomposting and breeding information as well as, of course, worms for sale.

    Acme Worm Farm is a semi-professional outfit whose website does not have a ton of information, but whose prices are often better than others.

    Worm Man’s Worm Farm has every type of worm you can imagine and for every purpose. This is not a specialty vermicomposting outlet, but a worm warehouse.

    The Worm Dude has a website that might be hard to navigate, but his products and resources are great.

    Urban Worm Girl is the site for two girls that specialize in vermiculture for the urban lifestyle.

    Mother Earth’s Farm is a vermiculture site and club based in Idaho and serving the northwest.

    And, don’t miss Find Worms. It is a site to go to if all else fails. It’s a worm locator with a catalog of worm sellers and sources for many parts of the globe.

    Acquiring and caring for worms in a home composting setup is easy, fun, and saves a lot of money, landfill space, and even time. Every gardener should look into vermicomposting.

    Want to learn more about worm composting?

    Check out these helpful websites:
    Worm Composting Tips
    Guide to Composting with Worms from California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery
    Worm Composting from Clemson Cooperative Extension

    How to find worms

    Earthworms are the foundation of a healthy, thriving garden. Called “nature’s plows,” earthworms’ tunnels improve soil aeration and drainage, making it easier for plant roots to penetrate the earth. Earthworms’ casts also improve soil structure and nutrient availability—which increases garden productivity! Learn more and find out how to attract earthworms to your garden.

    Worms can absorb oxygen through their skin, can eat their own body weight in soil, and—despite having no eyes—navigate by sensing light and vibrations in the soil.

    When the frost leaves the ground, the earthworms start moving upward in the soil looking for mates. Look closely and you might see one disappearing back into the ground. They are breaking up leaft litter and other debris to recycle nutrients back to the soil. Their movement mixes up the soil while creating a network of burrows to help air and water move through the soil.

    How to find worms

    Tiny Tillers

    The channels created by worm activity enhance the ability of water to percolate into the soil instead of running off, reducing erosion. An important part of our global soil ecosystem, earthworms have been around for about 300 million years. They are so widely found that we think of them as native to our soils but most of the original native earthworms found in cold climates such as the northern US and Canada were killed off by the glaciers. The abundance of worms we now have were introduced, either on purpose or accidentally, by settlers in the plants and soil they brought with them from Europe.

    There are thousands of species of earthworms worldwide but most fall into one of three groups.

    • Litter dwellers live in crop debris and leaves, not in agricultural soil. Manure worms and redworms used in vermiculture are in this group. See how to start vermicomposting and use worms to turn kitchen scrapes into fertilizer!
    • Topsoil dwellers live in the upper 2 to 3 inches of soil, eating dirt and organic matter found mixed in the so

    When Worms Go Bad

    In some situations, earthworms can be harmful to the ecosystem. Forests have been harmed by overzealous worms that have moved in and eaten up all the leaves and debris that naturally fall to the forest floor. The trees and native wildflowers that live there evolved without any worms and they actually need that layer of debris for their seeds to germinate and grow.

    Intestines of the Earth

    As they burrow through the soil, earthworms eat everything in their path. They can process a lot of soil, ecating two tons of dry matter per acre in a year, digesting it and mixing it with soil to form castings. Some worms also devour nematodes which can be harmful to plants. Since a worm’s gut contains a multitude of microorganisms, what comes out can have 8 times the nutrients of what went in! Castings contain humic acid which can control plant pathogens while stimulating healthy plant growth and they have a neutral pH. A mixture of organic matter and minerals, castings are also rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and sulfur in a soluble form that plants can readily use. An earthworm can produce its weight in casts per day.

    How to find worms

    A pile of castings outside a burrow.

    Let’s Count Worms

    The presence of worms in your soil is an indicator of a healthy garden. If you are interested in learning how your garden stacks up here’s an easy way to test it.

    Dig up a section of ground 12 inches by 12 inches and about 6 to 7 inches deep. Place the soil on a tarp and count the number of worms in the sample. If you find ten or more you have a healthy population. No worms at all? It means that the conditions must be poor – no moisture, toxic substances, sandy soil, or no organic matter for them to eat will all prevent them from setting up shop in your yard.

    What a Worm Wants

    If you want to encourage or sustain a healthy population of worms there are a few things you can do to improve the conditions for them:

      your soil.
    • Leave organic matter on the surface.
    • Add manure and compost.
    • Ditch the chemicals.
    • Use an organic mulch to keep soil moist and cool.

    How to find worms

    Soil environment affects population. Simply adding worms to a to a poor environment won’t work. They need the right conditions to prosper.

    • Water. Earthworms need moisture to live since their bodies are 80% water, but because they breathe through their skin, too much water can drown them.
    • Soil Texture. They prefer loamy soil. Overly sandy soil is abrasive and dries out too quickly.
    • Acidity. They prefer a neutral pH of 7 but will tolerate 5 to 8.
    • Temperature. Earthworms are cold-blooded so 50 to 60 degrees is optimum. Populations fluctuate naturally with the seasons. Adults die off in the summer and young ones hatch out in the fall. Over the winter they burrow deep below the frostline. Some species winter over as eggs and hatch out in the spring.

    If you want a better garden, be kind to your worms!

    How to Get Worms to Work for You

    Learn more about how to attract more worms. Your garden will thank you for it!