Saturday, December 24, 2011

Red Wiggler Worms

Homer requested red wiggler worms for Christmas. Seems a simple enough request. A variety of sources were identified, and worms were obtained and are now in a plastic bag in our mud room sink.

We also have been reminded that this variety of worm, a worm that eats what is on the surface of the not native to the United States. Years ago I read the book "The Earth Moved", a book that carries a lot of information about the many varieties of worms on this earth.

Because red wigglers are not native to the United States they are researched. Locally, there are studies being conducted by scientist at the Smithsonian and by folks from Johns Hopkins University. In Minnesota it is well documented that the entire forest system surrounding the wonderful lake system that exists there is being destroyed by these voracious and non-native heavy feeders. Red wigglers eat the leaves that lie on the floor of the forest, that traditionally breakdown very slowly, and has been there for hundreds if years..creating a cover for the roots of the forest, a blanket that keeps the roots of the trees healthy through long northern winters.

The red wiggler, used in tubs all over this country for making compost, have a high conversion rate of food to compost factor. That's why they are used. They also make great bait for fishing, so they are marketed for that use as well.

What makes them so attractive to compost makers and bait growers is exactly what makes them a problem on the forest floor. They reproduce wigglers. They have huge appetites and convert massive amounts of stuff to compost quickly. When it comes to the forest floor, they eat this protective layer of leaves that has been there..forever.. This causes the underground network of very important part of the natural system of decomposition. This further hastens the death if forests.

So we rethink our red wigglers. We are not yet certain what we will do with them but we will not be putting them outside.

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