MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: My yard had no worms, then suddenly it did. Where did they come from?

Date: Fri May 10 10:38:06 2002
Posted By: Aydin Orstan, Staff, Office of Food Additive Safety, Food and Drug Administration
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1020880277.Gb

Dear T. Allison,
Yes, you are absolutely right that worms do not form out of nothing. Let 
us leave spontaneous generation peacefully in its grave.

So, where did the worms come from? First of all, if there were worms 
before the houses were built, a few of them may have survived the building 
phase. You may not have started to notice them until their population 
increased in size. Second, if you brought soil and plants to your garden, 
you probably brought worms too. Next time before you plant store-bought 
plants take a look at the soil they come in to see if you can find any 
worms. Third, worms could be transported by other means. A friend who is a 
professional roofer once told me that he frequently finds live worms on 
roof tops. Perhaps, very small juveniles are blown up by strong winds or 
are carried stuck to birds' feet. If they land in a permanently wet and 
protected spot on a roof, they survive. I once found, not a worm, but 
a slug crawling in the sun in the middle of a parking lot. The closest 
soil was about 60 feet away, but a slug could not have crawled that far on 
the dry pavement in the sun without drying out. I suspected that it had 
come there on one of the parked cars. The point is every now and then a 
worm or two may be brought to a place on a piece of machinery, by a strong 
gust of wind, or inside the lawn furniture that one may have borrowed from 
a friend.

Enjoy the worms. They are good for the soil.


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