Where do all the worms go?

November for me was a very dry month. All the plants in the veggie garden were watered by hand from a gravity fed dam. Plants stayed alive but did not thrive.

I noticed that my once abundant earthworms were missing in action during this period. I dug random holes in my raised beds searching for them but they’d disappeared. To my horror, I thought I must be doing something very wrong in my organic gardening practices. I was about to post a discussion thread along those lines, when in December it started to rain and rain it did. Over 600mm (24inches) has fallen so far this month.

Before Xmas I dug over a few beds, added compost and topped with sugar cane mulch and to my joy my earthworms had reappeared, lots of them and made me smile. So I got to thinking, where do they go? The raised beds were all moist, albeit it from dam water, not beautiful natural rain. I can only think they went much deeper in the soil and “hibernated” until conditions were more to their liking. Anyone else had a similar situation?


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,218 admin

    @jodienancarrow That's exactly what I suspect would happen.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2020

    I live in Georgia & even though it's been cold here I'm sure it's not near as cold most of the places you guys live. Saying that to say - I dumped my daughters fish tank water out in my backyard yesterday near my patio. To my surprise a big fat worm at least 10 inches long came out of the ground and crawled on my patio. I guess the fish water was so nasty even the worm couldn't stand it. 😁 I picked that worm up and put it in my garden!!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,218 admin

    @kbmbillups1 That sounds like a night crawler. You should have gone fishing!

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Too funny! I haven't been fishing in years.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @jodienancarrow I have noticed the worms in my area will go deep and roll themselves in a tight little ball during winter and dry times. The wisdom of nature. It decreases their surface area and keeps them from drying out.

  • Annie Kate
    Annie Kate Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    I never thought about that; we have so many robins that our poor worms have many other reasons to stay deep underground. I am glad yours came back @jodienancarrow ; earthworms are a precious resource.

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    Worms do curl into a ball and sort of hibernate, it's called aestivate. Worms can do this during hot dry summers too They have the ability to produce an antifreeze like phosolipid to keep from freezing. Great observations @tomandcara and @jodienancarrow

    The slimy coating on worms help them stay moist and warm Below the frost line.

    Worms are so fascinating. 💚

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    Worms come out of the ground when the ground gets very moist since their skin is porous and they breath through it. So when there is too much water around them they come to the surface to breath (and then they are victims to the robins).