Worm grunting, also called “worm charming,” and “worm fiddling,” is a method used to lure worms from their habitat near the surface or even deep within the soil. This method is based on the idea that when worms feel the earth tremble or vibrate, the flee to the surface in fear of the predatory burrowing mole. Scientists have also observed animals such as birds and turtles pecking at the ground in order to bring earthworms to the surface for food.
Fishermen and anyone else interested in obtaining large number of worms can use this technique to bring earthworms to the surface. Only, when done by humans, worm grunting requires tools ranging from wooden stakes to saws. These tools create vibrations that prompt the earthworms to flee to the surface. Other methods involve using a garden fork to create vibrations to sprinkling the tops of soil with water to trick the worms into believing it is raining. Rain causes earthworms to flee to the surface for fear of “drowning” beneath the top layers of soil.
The reason worms are afraid of large amounts of water is, the worm’s environment and skin must be moist at all times, but not soaked. A moist environment 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 be fatal. If too much water is present, it takes the place of oxygen, which 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.
Once a cluster of earthworms has been charmed to the surface, they are placed in a bucket and carried off to be used as bait, for composting, or for farming. 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.
Worm grunting may be frowned upon by environmentalists for several reasons.
During the warm summer months, worms stay closer to the tops of soil where they create tunnels to wiggle in and out of. These tunnels are extremely important for plant life as they create a path for water and air. Water and air are essential to the survival of plant life. In addition, as stated earlier, worm castings are a powerful fertilizer. Castings are crucial to the survival of trees, plants, and flowers.
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