Eisenia fetida. Photographed by Harry Taylor, copyright: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Eisenia fetida. Photographed by Harry Taylor, copyright: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Eisenia fetida is very easily identified by its striped appearance of alternating broad, dark red-brown bands and narrower, pale pink or yellowish bands. Its saddle (the clitellum) is generally the same dark red-brown as the rest of its body.  The species identifier of its binomial namefetida, means foul-smelling, and as it suggests the earthworm can exude an odd smelling yellowish fluid if disturbed – bear this in mind if you decide to handle them. It typically measures 2-6mm in width and 26-130mm in length.

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Earthworms are an important food source for hedgehogs

Earthworms are an important food source for hedgehogs

Our gardens and other urban green areas have become hugely important for nature conservation. These green spaces can provide crucial habitat and a source of food for birds, pollinators, and small mammals. Although we often focus our efforts on the wildlife we can most readily see – such as birds and butterflies - considering what lives below the surface of our lawns and flower borders is just as important. Earthworms are one such animal living mostly out of sight, busy burrowing unnoticed through the soils in our gardens, that deserve our attention.

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Earthworm Watch scientist Victoria Burton at the Bristol Festival of Nature

Earthworm Watch scientist Victoria Burton at the Bristol Festival of Nature

Earthworm Watch was able to attend the Bristol Festival of Nature thanks to a grant from the British Ecological Society. I was fortunate to be the first beneficiary of the Regional Funding Scheme which provides support for researchers to undertake public engagement activities.

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Microscolex phosphoreus

After the recent release of David Attenborough’s Life That Glows which featured the bioluminescent earthworm found in the Loire Valley, France, you may well ask whether any of the 31 earthworm species found in the UK and Ireland have this seemingly preternatural ability. Well yes! Indeed there is a species in the UK that emits a greenish glow when disturbed.

 

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An earthworm curled up in the soil

An earthworm curled up in the soil

Firstly a big thank you to our survey participants. You have now entered over 100 results into the Earthworm Watch website but we need lots more! Summer is fast approaching, and the weather is getting hotter and dryer. We have extended the survey into June, and need your help to complete your survey before earthworms become less active.

So where do earthworms go in the summer?

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About Us

Earthworm Watch is a collaboration between Earthwatch Institute (Europe) and the Natural History Museum in London

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