Yes, you have read it correctly; non-native Earthworms are invading NE Ohio and the delicate ecosystems of our forests.
I know, I know, the Earthworm has held a special place in all of our lives. Maybe you were the little boy out past your bedtime with your flashlight in hand traipsing through the dewy overgrowth hunting for fish bait. Maybe you were the little girl who had a worm thrown into her hair by a young boy who thought he was being cute and to this day you cringe when the word WORM is even mentioned. Or, like me you were taught that an Earthworm is a gardener’s friend, to be admired, to be protected, the more the merrier!
So you could imagine my surprise as Mary explained that “if we meet at her property on this certain day, we must be finished in time for her to make it to Cleveland for an informational talk about Earthworm Invasion”. Maybe there was an odd pause at this point as my mind flashed images of War of the Worlds and then reeled for a moment in confusion. “Earthworms are Invading Ohio?!!” I exclaimed!! (I am sure I exclaimed this, how could you not?)
O.K. I have a background in Horticulture – Earthworms are not a new concept, I see them on a regular basis. Ten to fifteen per square foot is the magic number. I cannot say I have ever witnessed a worm wielding a weapon of mass destruction – though, I was about to learn differently, that is when Mary explained just what this DUFF is all about. Non-native Earthworm species have been introduced into the United states through foreign trade shipments and other means. These alien worms are invading our forests; eating our entire DUFF layer and leaving a pile of you know what behind. First, DUFF is the natural leafy layer on the forest floor usually about 4” in depth and made from the decomposition and addition of leaves and twigs. Usually this layer breaks down slowly which allows accumulation and a constant depth. Our forests do not survive or thrive without this layer.
These invading Earthworm species are veracious eaters and DUFF is their meal of choice. The DUFF is valuable for its beneficial bacterial and fungal content, not to mention the microclimate it creates for the forest and its inhabitants. www.Greatlakeswormwatch.org is creating awareness around this issue.
Are you feeling like wrangling yourself some Earthworms?
No, seriously – The information provided is intriguing, compelling and it makes one wonder how such a tiny and delicate creature can wreak so much havoc.
Check it out to get involved.
Check it out to become aware.
Check it out because Earthworms are REALLY Invading NE Ohio!!