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Re: Worms in the ground

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Worms in the ground
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 16:20:25 EST

In a message dated 1/19/03 6:53:11 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
RSchutte@starbucks.com writes:

<<  In Bon Terra's publication Basic Vermiculture written by Kelly Slocam ,
 he states.   "The worm cocoon is an incredibly tough structure, designed
 to protect the young inside from environmental extremes and even
 ingestions by other animals.  Cocoons can be frozen, submerged in water
 for extended periods of time, dried and exposed to temperatures far in
 excess of what can be tolerated by adult worms without damage to the
 young worms inside."    That is how it works. >>

So Ray, it seems that   my earlier thought that worms might be at work in my 
raised bed during next week's Superbowl, with temperatures outside below 
freezing, was, to put it bluntly,  balderdash.  Some research got me this: 
When temperatures drop or soils get too warm or dry, worms know what to do. 
If it starts getting chilly, many kinds of worms tunnel deep into the soil 
before it freezes. Worms "migrate" downward, burrowing deeper to get past the 
frost. Sometimes they dig six feet deep! There they stay in their burrows, 
prisoners below soil frozen hard as rock and topped by ice and snow. They 
coil into a slime-coated ball and go into a sleep-like state called 
estivation, which is similar to hibernation for bears. (The mucous, or slime, 
keeps the worms from drying out.) Worms will survive in frozen or dry soils 
by estivation until conditions improve. 

Not all kinds of earthworms make that downward journey to survive winter. 
Some kinds of earthworms lay their eggs in cocoons safe in the soil to hatch 
when conditions are right. Then they settle under leaf litter on top of the 
soil, where winter's cold makes them freeze and die.

I guess the fact that I saw these guys in the late fall, when I put my bed to 
rest and in early spring got me confused. Thanks guy!

Adam Honigman

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