3 Reasons to Love Earthworms

By Sayward Rebhal, Networx

I have a degree in biology, which means I’ve spent more than my fair share of time hanging around with earthworms. And let me tell you – they’re awesome critters! They’re so great that most pest control companies don’t exterminate them. The biggest problem that earthworms commonly cause is attracting animals that like to eat them. Pest control experts in Houston report that armadillos frequently go digging for earthworms, ripping up local lawns in the process. Nevertheless, here are three great reasons to respect (and maybe even admire) these slimy little subterranean sweeties:

1. Earthworms till the soil. Sometimes referred to as “nature’s plows”, these tiny tillers work their magic by building their burrows beneath the surface. As they wiggle and wriggle and dig – sometimes their squirming takes them 3 or more feet down into the ground – they stir up the subsoil. All that tunneling moves the deeper, mineral-rich earth upwards to where the roots of plants can use it. Earthworms allow plants to access additional nutrients which would otherwise be beyond their reach.

2. Earthworms aerate the soil. An extension of the moving and mixing described above, as the wormies move the mineral-rich “new” dirt up towards the surface, they also encourage air to penetrate further down. They leave behind little tunnels, which allow the air to reach much deeper into the subsoil. Keeping the soil oxygenated is key for the growth of beneficial bacteria. The more oxygen-rich the soil, the more bacteria can live there. The more bacteria colonizing the area the better – more decomposition, nitrogen fixation, and nitrification.

3. Earthworms smooth out the soil. As they move, they eat. (Not a bad life, huh?!) In one end goes the soil, food pieces, and other organic matter. Out the other end comes lovely little worm pellets – called “castings” – which are full of amazing organic nutrients to fuel a growing garden. Castings are considered one of the most precious fertilizers. Earthworms literally eat old plants and turn them into new plant food. It’s a perfect circle! As well, by breaking larger particles down into smaller ones, they make those smaller particles available for microorganisms to use. The microorganisms – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and more – deconstruct the soil even further, contributing to the process of decomposition and compost. Nature has the recycling thing down pat.

So I know, they’re still not cute and fuzzy and you probably won’t want to cuddle up to one. But hopefully, at least now you’ll have a better understanding of these beneficial garden buddies. Maybe you’ll avoid stepping on them when they’re making their way across the concrete sidewalk. Maybe you’ll even pick them up and help them along. Drop them off in your garden – you’ll be doing the both of you a great favor.

Related:
The Wonder of Worms
Worms of Your Own
A Natural Approach to Gardening

63 comments

Oh Lay Hoon
Oh Hui Xin3 years ago

We should learn to love and respect these hardworking earthworms!
Without these earthworms, humans will not probably survive until this era

LILING OH
Liling O.3 years ago

Its undeniable that humans will not be expanding so many today without the hard works of these worms!
We should respect these wonderful worms

Ajla C.
Past Member 4 years ago

da od velike su pomoći

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

Moles like them too. :-)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

we need them. plus they are great bait and my son loves to watch them.

Siti R.
Siti R.4 years ago

used to dig them out of the deep drains around the house for the chickens. great memory!

Kaela Bierce
Kaela Bierce4 years ago

For the longest time I have been picking up earthworms that are drowning in rain puddles or baking in the sun and putting them in an area not affected by mother nature. glad to see other people do the same thing!

Pushpraj Singh
Pushpraj Singh4 years ago

I heard somewhere that earthworms can eliminate heavy metals.

fragranttomato Sunny
Maartje O.4 years ago

yup, whenever I see an earthworm in the soil, I think: 'good, soil is healthy!!' I always put them back on the grass when I see them drying out on the road

Mary B.
Mary B.4 years ago

I had never thought of rescueing earthworms from an unsafe environment before, but I am so glad there are people out there that do this;. Thank you. You have just given me one more thing to be grateful for and to appreciate.