Other common names: Dew Worm; Lob Worm; Nightcrawler; Canadian Nightcrawler; Tauwurm
Scientific name: Lumbricus terrestris
Lumbricus terrestris is a large reddish worm native to Europe, but which is now also widely distributed elsewhere around the world, due to human introductions. In some areas where it has been introduced, some people consider it to be a serious pest species, since it is out-competing locally native worms. Although not the numerically most abundant earthworm even in its native range, it gets called the Common Earthworm (or even just "the Earthworm") as it is a very conspicuous and familiar earthworm species in garden and agricultural soils of the temperate zone, and frequently being seen on the surface, unlike most other earthworms.
Appearance / health:
Through much of Europe Lumbricus terrestris is the largest naturally occurring species of earthworm, typically reaching 20-25cm long when extended. It is usually a red-brown combination color, being lighter on the ventral surface than the dorsal surface.
Lumbricus terrestris is an anecic worm, that is, it forms permanent deep burrows and comes to the surface to feed, as opposed to burrowing through the soil for its food as most other earthworms do. An unusual habit of this species is to pull leaves into the mouth of its burrow where they partially decay before being eaten. While they generally feed on plant material, they have been observed feeding on squashed insects and feces.
Lumbricus terrestris do not do well in a greenhouse or home vermicomposting environment as they do not like soil temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
excellent feeders, great bait, great science projects, mineral rich soil, premium soil, compost piles
welldesigned worm bin
earthworm farming phases, little extra income, neat iridescent sheen, large plastic tote
The Common Earthworm IS an Uncommon Gardener
Years ago, I dated a man who had two school-aged children. As he worked at night, I often watched the children from after school til time to leave for school in the next day. One day only a few weeks of this arrangement, the younger boy came for a snack before heading out to play in the backyard. I had seen him working out there every afternoon I had cared for him, and I had noticed,too, that he always changed into overalls and a straw hat before heading out.
"What are you up to out there, J?" I asked.
That adorable kindergartner beamed to answer, "I'm a worm farmer, N!" And with that, he grabbed my hand to lead me to the grounds. What I found there was a very well-designed worm bin buried in the ground. Constructed of an old deep freezer, this bin, had the lid removed and a piece of plywood had been cut to replace it.
"Only problem with keeping worms is the moles get them," J kicked at the dirt beside the bin.
That was over 15 years ago, and that worm farm has gone through various phases. From the knowledge J and his father shared with me, I have come through various earthworm farming phases, too. My bins are smaller, each constructed of a large plastic tote with secure lid, drilled holes for ventilation and drainage, and a spigot (made from an upcycled detergent pump).
These bins are filled with various types of compost: shredded newsprint, cardboard boxes, dried leaves, and veggie table scraps. Worms dig in, eat, and turn waste to excellent fertilizer. From time to time, some of these worms are moved to garden plots in my backyard, at community gardens, and to the edible forest garden friends and I manage. Their cases are incorporated into natural fertilizers we use at each of these places, and we make a "worm tea," to from liquid pumped out of the bottom of the bins, mixed with water, and allowed to steep.
Another way that we have been able to incorporate worm farming into the overall garden plot design is through worm towers constructed of 10" wide portions of upcycled PVC pipe. Best if made in cuts of at least 3 ft long, these are drilled to allow ventilation/ earthworm passage/moisture run off, decorated as folks see fit, placed about 18" into the ground, filled with veggie compost/scraps, and capped with a pretty plate or an attractive bowling ball (our favorite). Earthworms are attracted to the tower for food, move in and out at will, and fertilize and aerate the soil as they move back and forth.
Our organic fruits and vegetables are just about the best you'll find, and we owe much of our success to our creeping earthworm buddies.
Of all the pets I have ever recommended to children, the common earthworm is among my favorite as they offer such much to the idea of self-sufficiency through gardening and true sustainability AND keeping them allows for much scientific observation and enlightenment..
From Nolaerus Feb 28 2014 1:51PM
One of the most important and versatile invertebrates in existance in my opinion in regards to fishing and gardening (and is good for a little extra cash from time to time I might add).
There's not much care that goes into these other than making sure their bed stays moist and has a constant supply of organic composting material.
What? You have no dirt!?
These guys will make the best dirt you will ever need for your plants - right from the little factory within themselves. A really fun project or experiment is to toss a bunch of these in a bucket or similar container with nothing but leaves and other debris and watch as they do their magic. I call it fun, maybe I am easily amused by them but in any case, no dirt is necessary and the product they produce will be much appreciated by your plants. Any organic material they process comes out as super rich soil and therefore a pile of lettuce leaves after a time, will be transformed into fantastic, black soil ready for use with no extra added chemicals required (for most plants). There are always exceptions.
Ok, so you do have dirt. Poor soil is also required to be airated and the earthworm has another use up it's sleave - if it had a sleave that is. Its burrowing habits bring welcomed fresh air into the soil allowing plants to breath and spread root easier which in turn helps them grow much faster than they would if the earthworm didn't exist. But while they burrow, they drop their recycled poor soil in their wake increasing the soil's value as they go.
Fishing! Oh yeah! Now we're talking. Catfish, Bass, Crappie, Perch and Brim.. I could go on and on here, love earthworms of all shapes, sizes and color and in some cases, a fishing trip can totally be ruined if it weren't for having the earthworm on hand at all times. As for the extra cash - some sporting goods establishments are only too happy to recieve fresh earthworms into their stock, especially when some of them like to support a local farmer. Many actually prefer a local-raised stock as oppposed to recieving them in the mail or off a truck from hundreds of miles away.
Earthworms are a must have in my opinion for so many reasons I can't even begin to list them all here!
-photo is a stock photo from the Wiki Commons.
From aqualife1000 Feb 4 2015 1:30PM
Not a very exciting pet
As a kid I would go to my backyard and dig up earth worms from the garden. I would keep them in a plastic container with soil. Earth worms are interesting looking and acting, but not the most exciting pet to have. The tend to just wiggle their way through soil, most times being hardly visible from the surface. It was always important to switch out there soil for new soil, since they obtain their food from the soil. The box would always smell, since it was technically only a box of soil full of worms. They were always easy to catch and handle. Definitely not an animal I would consider having as a pet again. Better to watch them in their natural habitat..
From Doctortux2014 Jun 29 2014 9:49AM