Research on earthworms is a relatively new study compared to many other organisms. However more discoveries are being made about them everyday, discoveries of new important traits of earthworms and how they interact in our environment.
One such new discovery involves our dear composting worm the red wiggler (Eisenia Foetidas). Many of us who do worm farming or vermicomposting will know about this species of worm.
You know that bees communicate with each other by doing dance patterns, dolphins communicate through sound under water, but how do worms communicate with each other? Scientists in the University of Liege in Belgium have discovered the answer to this question.
In one of our newsletters we had a reader who inquired why earthworms form clumps of balls together in compost or when out in the open. One of the reasons is because this is their form of communication.
The study has been published in the journal of Ethology mentioning that worms uses ‘touch’ to communicate and influence each others behavior. After communication signals have been swapped, the worms will then collectively move in the same direction, meaning that worms do not act singularly, but form ‘herds’.
This is really interesting as it answers many questions when we see worms form clumps of balls, especially when the environment is not particularly right for them due to low temperatures, shortage of food or when they are out in the open.
The only previous explanations were for ‘protection from predators’ or ‘prevention of freezing’, but with the extra explanation of ‘communication’, we can now also understand that the worms are deciding where to go next to move away from the immediate danger, and then move together.
This can also explain the growth of worm populations in healthy soil.
Since worms travel together, once they find good soil, their whole family will soon be there!
Want to know how they did these experiments?
You can read more here.