Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Where have you been, my no-eyed worm?
It rained good last night and some more this morning too, something that hasn't happened much lately. So there were a few earthworms visiting the soggy surface as I left the house. This one, who was at least 5 inches long, was heading across the concrete driveway toward the planter at the other side. Earthworms breathe through their skin, and so can't survive a dry environment. But when it rains more than a smidgen, enough to soak the soil and the worm burrows, they can be found on the surface during the day. Whether they are moving away from their too-sodden burrows temporarily, or taking advantage of the moist conditions to migrate, seek food or mates on the surface, I don't know. I never thought much about worm species before; this site has info and photos of various earthworms found in California. I suspect my worm friend is Lumbricus terrestris, the ubiquitous nightcrawler, but I'm not sure, as it didn't display the flattened tail typical of the species. If so, it feeds on detritus at the soil surface, maintains a burrow in my garden soil up to 6 feet deep, and may live up to 6 years.
Veneration for the seasoned worm, having burrowed unmeasured meters through many cycles of the sun, is now added to the appreciation I already had for his/her cultivation services to my soil.