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Worms can be bad?!

 
Starr Brainard
Posts: 39
Location: Duluth, MN
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EVERYONE. I have just had my mind blown. I just purchased the book "Earthworms of the Great Lakes" written by a professor at a local university.  I'm only a few pages in, but have already learned that there are no native worm species in Northern North America and introduced worms are having really detrimental impact on local hardwood forests by drastically changing the soil. We always talk about how worms benefit human influenced systems like gardens and farms, but are we having a conversation in the permie community about the potential detrimental impacts on our native wild ecosystems?

Here's is a radio segment on this if you're interested:
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/09/28/invasive-worms

So, given this new information I have learned, I have two big questions for the community:

What's the best way to compost if we avoid using worms? Or do we as community think it is acceptable to keep using Asian composting worms; and if yes, how can we do our best Earth Care and keep worms from spreading in wild ecosystems?

How can we as a community constantly be critical of our practices to be certain we are using the most responsible strategies? How do do we update ourselves and use modern research?

I would love to hear your thoughts.
 
Angela Aragon
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I find it hard to believe that there were no native earthworm species in Northern North America. It certainly is possible that the "foreign" species to which the professor refers outcompeted those that already were native to that region, but to allege that there were none at all, given what we know about the history of our planet, stretches the limits of credibility.

With that said, even if what he postulates is true, has not that ship already sailed (no pun intended)? I mean, can we really turn back the clock, considering the ubiquitous distribution of said earthworms now covering the region? Again, if true, it does however remind us that it can be irresponsible to transport species out of their native habitat just because we like them, or just because we can. There are countless examples, spanning virtually every continent of microorganisms, plants, insects, and animals being knowingly or unknowingly transported into new habitats by humans and wrecking havoc.
 
Anne Miller
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The article is referring says "reveals that the aggressive nature of this jumping worm ...  these worms are sold as part of some compost kits."

Now I did not view the Audio because I have not sound and a slow internet connection.

It appears that in parts of the North USA the native worms were killed by the Ice Age.  " The scoop on jumping worms in Wisconsin

In 2009, all 51 species in the genus Amynthas were listed in Wisconsin's first "Invasive Species Rule," (Wis. Admin. Code Ch. NR 40). They were classified as a "Prohibited Species" because we knew enough about their "dark side" to know we didn't want them in the state. This law helps prevent the introduction of unwanted species by making it illegal to sell, introduce, transport, possess and propagate them in the state.

Unfortunately, some species make it here anyway.

Jumping worms are native to Southeast Asia."

http://dnr.wi.gov/wnrmag/2015/06/worms.htm

"There are two genera of Lumbricid earthworms that are native to North America. The family Lumbricidae includes most of the earthworms familiar to people in North America and Europe, including the red worm Eisenia fetida and the nightcrawler Lumbricus terrestris."

https://www.quora.com/Are-earthworms-native-to-North-America

I hope this information helps so folks will buy the right kind of worms.


 
Anne Miller
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I forgot to mention that the worms must be kept a certain temperature.

"Bins can be located anywhere from under the kitchen sink to outside or in your garage. One important consideration is temperature. Ideally a worm compost bin should be located in areas where the temperatures are between 40 to 80˚F. Red worms generally prefer temperatures in the 55 to 77 degree range. If you live in an area that has harsh winters, you’ll need to move your bin inside during the winter months or compost on a seasonal basis. Another consideration: worms are like people in that they do not like a lot of noise or vibrations. Keep them away from high traffic areas."
 
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