What happens to worms when they die?

What happens to worms when they die?
Question posed by Trisha of Learning Life

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Trisha asked a couple of questions recently – What happens to worms when they die? Do you remove them or do they decompose in the soil?

The average lifespan of the earthworm may surprise some. Still, it is between 3 – 5 years pending species and environmental conditions and, of course, climatic events in its life, the latter referring to whether it becomes bait for a fish or a meal for the early bird, slugs or moles, or even worse than being eaten, desiccate in the sun!

But if they reside within a relatively safe and protected environment with excellent conditions such as security, feeding, bedding, and protective warmth and ventilation, freedom from the elements like well-managed wormeries and earthworms can easily reach old age.

However, like everything else with a beat, earthworms will die. In the world of earthwormery, death is a taboo subject – the ol’ worm in the room topic, known of but not discussed …

Worms’ bodies are made up of around 90% water, so when they die, they tend to melt away or decompose very quickly. They become part of the recycling process that they were taking part in when alive.

Perhaps the saddest part of the earthworm’s death is that, unlike humans who experience rigor mortis after we have passed, worms experience it as they are dying. [Science Daily]

However, that aside – what happens when they die?

They become part of the whole decomposition process quickly, so there is no need to remove them.

If the residents are found to be dying within a wormery, then several steps need to be taken quickly.

Discover the cause – poor airflow, overwet soil conditions, overheating, freezing or insufficient food or too much food, acidic soil conditions, and poor bedding.
Worms are pretty hardy and resilient, but like most organisms, they will die if environmental conditions are poor. The most straightforward remedy here is to salvage what you can from your herd, clean the farm, prepare fresh beddings and soils and reboot.

So there we go Trisha – Hope that has helped and many thanks for the question

Common Vermiculture Questions Directory

Vermiculture Directory

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

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