Guest Column - Nightcrawlers’ impact on native forest soils expanding

Bill Cook - Retired MSU Extension Forester/Biologist

As a kid walking to school on rainy days, I would routinely pick-up nightcrawlers stranded on the pavement, and toss them back into a yard or roadside.  Now, I stomp on them.  While I don’t think that my heart has hardened against innocent animals, I’ve come to understand the ecological misfits that nightcrawlers represent.  Regardless, my inner child still feels a little guilty.  

The glaciated part of North America has no native earthworms.  They do not belong here.

Who cares?  A good question that deserves an answer.  

Earthworms, about 30 invasive species, all imported, mostly from Europe, are voracious feeders of organic matter.  In a vegetable garden, this might be a good thing.  In a forest, earthworms are rather serious change agents.

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