As The Worm Turns

Current guests leave tomorrow. The person booking said they were a team of university researchers.

It turns out it’s a professor and 3 grad students from the U of Minnesota Soil Center retrieving the soil temp recorders that one team member installed 2 years ago, thinking that they would return last year, taking a census of worms, and recording soil data.

I had no idea that most earthworms in North America are considered invasive. North American worms almost became instinct during the Ice Age, reproduce slowly, and forests developed mostly without them prior to colonial contact.

Some were imported deliberately from Europe, and some came with imported plant material, and now South American worms are moving north. This is one team among many watching the changes they cause in ecosystems.

Great guests. I like science nerds.

More worm info:


Fascinating! What fun guests to have.

I had a reproductive endocrinologist stay with me during a coral spawn. She was here to monitor the “caged” coral spawning for reef replenishment. She was so much fun to listen to!


Poor worms.

“They do not require a mate to reproduce…”


There is a hammer head worm that is getting dangerous down here. They eat other earthworms and their own kind. They are invasive and ruthless.

Oh, and I have a worm bin.

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I think those may be the South American worms that my guest mentioned. Here in our temperate rain forest we can have peat layers that are 20 feet thick, with a fungal ecosystem that has taken several thousand years to fully develop. What’s underneath are the glacial rock and gravels that glaciers left when they receded.

If worms took over, 20 millenia’s worth of slowly stored nutrients (including sequestered carbon) in the soil would be released and with the high rainfall, end up in the ocean. Loss of the peat layer in an area that was under ice during the Ice Age would drastically reduce the ability of the soil to hold water, and would flush a lot of nutrients into the ocean instead of nourishing the spruce forest.