“I have been reading your news letters for a short time. I am an avid gardener and bug person. I have worm stations (the PVC pipe) that I put my cooking scraps into (which is quite a bit once you start saving them). My real question is, do worms have memories? My worms are what I will call free range! I feed them and I let them in turn feed my garden.
We received a lot of rain 4 to 6 inches and I went to my garage which is close to my garden and had hundreds of night crawlers (at first I thought they were snakes freaked me out). They were coming into my garage so I just let them. The next day they were all gone. Did they go back to my feeders? Will they remember where they are. Just wondering. I had no Idea I was rearing such big guys. Thanks for the newsletter. I look forward to them.” ~ Michelle in Missouri
Worms do have a brain to control what they do, but in terms of memory, well… it depends what the memory you are talking about is! They definitely have a behavioral pattern, instincts and preference to food they are raised up in, and these can be classified as their biological memory.
First of all, worms are known to feed better on the food that they are raised up in.
When they are raised up in the worm stations you have created for them, they will adapt to the food that you give them from birth. When a new type of food is given, it will take a bit of time for them to adapt to this new source of food, and even when they do, their processing rates will be slightly lower then when they process the previous type.
Worms also have a natural behavioral pattern.
As you may know, worms move up to the surface when it rains. Although this pattern is not entirely well understood, there are three hypothesis for this behavior:
1. The waterlogged soil has insufficient oxygen for the worms, therefore, earthworms come to the surface to get the oxygen they need and breathe more easily.
2. Some species (notably Lumbricus terrestris) come to the surface to mate. This behavior is, however, limited to a few species.
3. The worms may be using the moist conditions on the surface to travel more quickly than they can underground, thus colonizing new areas more quickly. However this is very dangerous for worms during the daytime due to predators and UV radiation from sunlight.
Earthworms are in constant search for food and usually don’t move far away from an abundant food source.
In your case I am not surprised that the worms moved to the surface as it rained to search for more food and a more habitable area. Of course when the rain ended, they will migrate back to the place where there was food (and especially the ones they were raised up in) but they may also move on to new areas in search of a new place to live.