Earthworms and humans

I came across this quote from an EcoGeek interview with Daniel Quinn:

“Earthworms are more important to the life of this planet than humans are, and if earthworms disappear, we humans will follow very soon after”

In case you don’t have time to read the interview, Mr Quinn was expanding on the notion our species generally has that we are very different and superior to the rest of life on our planet. Mr Quinn states it’s a concept that will destroy us if we don’t get rid of it – we need to see ourselves as a member of the living community, not separate to it and we need to give all its inhabitants the respect and care they deserve.

He was being quite serious about the “humble” worm though.  Even Charles Darwin wrote back in 1881: “It may be doubted whether there are any other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly creatures”. OK, so “lowly” was probably a little harsh; perhaps he meant “simple”, but the point remains that Chas saw the worm’s crucial importance in the ecosystem. Thousands of year ago, Queen Cleopatra said of them, “earthworms are sacred.”

The quality of our soil depends heavily on the activity of earthworms. Earthworms compost, break down inorganic matter and also aerate soil. They *create* fertile soil. Earthworms are also a food source for many other creatures.

The way we treat the land through some farming and gardening practices seriously threatens the earthworm. Plowing kills worms, as do pesticides and chemical fertilizers. When the worm population is destroyed, more chemicals are needed to keep the land productive – it’s a very vicious cycle.

I gained a special respect for worms when we purchased a vermicomposter aka a worm farm. The amount of our leftovers they chew through is phenomenal and it also made me appreciate just how much organic matter it takes to create soil. I thoroughly recommend starting your own worm farm – the kids will love it too.

Hug a worm today!

Learn more about worm farms and vermicomposting.