Good news from underground: Earthworms are thriving
With the human population growing -- and paving much of the land – you might think earthworms are endangered. In fact, Linda Blum says they’re doing fine. She’s a retired professor of environmental science at UVA and a Piedmont Master Gardener who says worms live in underground tunnels.
“There are reports of anywhere between a hundred and 800 burrows in one square yard," she says. "That's probably representative of about a thousand individuals.”
And come winter, those burrows could be six feet down -- where the soil is warm enough and damp enough to sustain them and their offspring.
“Worms reproduce by making something called a cocoon. They’re very, very tiny, although if you’re in a garden and you look closely you might see them. Some of them are large enough to see with the naked eye," she explains. "Within that cocoon there will be somewhere between one and six baby worms.”
Most of the earthworms in Virginia are hearty imports from Europe.
“They came over with the colonists back in the 1600’s and on. When they brought plants with them, earthworms were there in the soil that the plants were growing in.”
But there’s one invasive that hails from Asia.
“In fact, just recently I found some Asian jumping worms in my garden," Blum recalls. "They’re called jumping worms because of the way they move. They move very snakelike, and they’re very, very active. They’re also called crazy worms.”
If you find that interesting, you’re not alone. Charles Darwin was fascinated and wrote an entire book about earthworms. Linda Blum will lecture on the subject at 6:30 Tuesday at the Center in Charlottesville.