Pouring mustard water to bring up deep-living earthworms

Pouring mustard water to bring up deep-living earthworms

As part of our feedback survey we asked if there were any comments or questions. One question given was why Earthworm Watch uses mustard, if it harms the earthworms and if there are less disruptive methods that could be used. This blog post aims to answer this.

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

Allolobophora chlorotica, pink morph. Photographed by Harry Taylor, copyright: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum.

Inspired by the Natural History Museum’s spectacular new exhibition Colour and Vision, Through the Eyes of Nature, we are sending you on a quest to find a green-coloured earthworm, Allolobophora chlorotica, to add to your species list.

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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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About Us

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

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