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Thread: Invasive worms?

  1. #1
    kamiljablo's Avatar
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    Invasive worms?

    Apparently worms are an invasive species that are destroying forest ecosystems in some Northern North American forests (like Minnesota, for instance). Discuss.

    Invasive worms?

    This article is really interesting, partly because it outlays the different types of worms and their suitability to vermicomposting but also because it discusses the ecological impact of releasing various types of worms into the wild. (The short version is that you’re fine as long as you’re using red wigglers, which is the best kind of worms to use for vermicomposting and is what most worm suppliers sell.) The idea of worms as an invasive species struck me as really odd.

    It’s nice to know that red wrigglers aren’t invasive. Last time the worms-as-invasive-species meme went around, I didn’t see anything that broke it down by varieties and I felt vaguely guilty. Now I can go polish off my halo.

    It doesn’t seem particularly odd that worms could be invasive species. They’re small, reproduce easily, and have a huge environmental impact. They live underground and can hide easily. Observe the change they make in gardens. It’s a positive change because we plant things that like the environment they create; something that evolved without them wouldn’t necessarily be suited to that environment. They’re small, so a systematic attempt to cull them from areas where they might be doing harm is going to be really hard if not impossible.

    I’m a lot more surprised when I read that something like a kind of tree is invasive. They get fairly big before they reproduce; you should be able to just see them with your eyes and chop them down.

  2. #2
    herenorthere's Avatar
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    Methinks the compost gardener person plays a little loose with the facts, but is mostly harmless.

    I remember when my forester friend told me about the "invasive worm" theory years ago and we spent a lot of time talking through what it meant. Worms expand their range pretty slowly when not riding on farm equipment or in bait containers. If there were a single glacial advance and retreat, worms would eventually recolonize their former range, all else being equal. Because of the Quaternary glacial fluctuations, I wonder how far north you have to go before you reach areas that have been worm-free for a million years. At least until a fisherman tossed a container of worms on the ground. Fishermen have caused a lot of damage, spreading non-native species and fish diseases in the water, worms in soil where they don't belong, and lots of garbage. Plus all those tangles of discarded line and hooks. No, it isn't all fishermen, but I've rarely been to a popular fishing spot that didn't look like a dump.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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