Where Did All The Earthworms Go?

So, one day the soil in your backyard or garden was teeming with earthworm life, and the next your precious earthworms had all but disappeared. There are a number of reasons why earthworms seem to disappear, and unfortunately, these reasons are not pleasant.

If you noticed that the earthworms in your soil seem to be disappearing, chances are they are not getting the things they need to survive or their habitat has been disturbed. Without earthworm’s survival, sadly, all of earth’s plants and trees would suffer. Although small and very easy to miss, these powerful creatures play a major role in helping the earth’s trees, plants, fruits, and vegetables thrive. Worms help trees and plants survive through a process called aeration. This means, the worms dig tunnels in the soil, which allows air to get to the plant roots.

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Worms also eat organic matter, digest it, and excrete the digested material. Worms eat so much that they typically produce excrement equal to their own weight every 24 hours. This digested material worms eat is called “castings.” The castings are rich with phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Worm castings are so valuable and ten times richer in nutrients that commercial topsoil, that many gardeners and farmers use the composting method to fertilize plants and crops.

Worm castings also help create channels within the layers of the earth’s soil, which helps to hold water better and keep moisture in the soil longer. The worm’s moist sustenance rich environment plays an extremely important role in reproduction as well. Worms prefer to mate and reproduce in warm moist soil, away from the light.

If the worms habitat is disturbed in anyway, this could lead to the death of worms. First, worms do not have lungs, so they breathe through their skin. This means that the worm’s environment and skin must be moist at all times. This allows the worm to breathe in oxygen. If the worm’s skin dries out, the worm will die from suffocation. While worms need moisture to survive, too much moisture can also be fatal. If too much water is present, it will take the place of oxygen. This will cause the worms to flee to the surface. Once on the surface, worms will be exposed to sunlight. If worms remain in the sunlight for too long, they can become paralyzed.

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In addition to needing a dark, moist environment for survival, worms must also remain close to their food supply. Worms feast on leaves and dead grass. These organic materials contain organisms that provide a healthy diet of bacteria, algae, and fungi. Worms eat plenty of dirt as well, especially if they live deeper inside the earth. Worms also eat plants, fruits, and vegetables.

If you want to keep earthworms alive, refrain from disturbing their habitat and resist the urge to dig them up and examine them. This will only expose them to elements that their tiny bodies cannot handle. If you want to find out information about worms or review images, simply flip through the pages of an encyclopedia or search online.

2 Comments

  1. I live in Long Island, NY. It is clear the worms are disappearing. i haven’t seen any in YEARS. The ground on properties all over Nassau County is inundated with poisons to kill weeds, grubs and other insects. There are non – organic fertilizers poisoning the earth’s delicate balance, and pollutants from autos and trucks, etc. which choke the soil with exhaust contaminates.

    Unless something is done to protect these species, I dare say they will go extinct in this fairytale landscape man has made for himself But, then again, I would dare to say that his own extinction is also on the horizon, with the direction he is taking on the Planet…to be sure.

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