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Sun Jun 7, 2015, 07:12 AM

Earthworms acting strangely after Texas floods.

This is so sad...
It could represent what humans are doing to the earth.
Even the worms are scared and sad.

"Worms have been known to arrange themselves in clumps such as this, and are often called 'earthworm herds.'

The creatures often do this when they are in distress or faced with danger.
Scientists believe the clumps allow them to use touch to communicate and influence each other's behaviour."


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3112976/Mystery-earthworm-herds-Creatures-Texas-behaving-strangely-storms-no-one-knows-why.html#ixzz3cJ0D3kEL


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Response to ellenrr (Original post)

Sun Jun 7, 2015, 07:24 AM

1. Making a mountain out of a lump of earthworms

 

The worms are still there, aren't they? Furthermore, the earthworm is an invasive species brought to this continent from Europe. In terms of the Worry Index, somewhere below -50.

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Response to Duppers (Reply #5)

Tue Jun 9, 2015, 10:11 AM

6. And mostly found in areas where the Glaciers had been

 

South of the old Glacier and permafrost areas, native earthworms dominate (i.e. South of Virginia and Kentucky): This does NOT mean introduced earthworms (Mostly Night-crawlers) do not exist south of that line, they do, but as you go south you see more of a mix:

http://wsu-nature.org/2012/01/29/are-worms-natural-the-global-worming-debate/

http://animals.mom.me/earthworms-native-america-6876.html

http://erenweb.org/new-page/earthworms/

http://www.nrri.umn.edu/worms/downloads/publications/Callaham%20et%20al%202006.pdf

http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/109385

Earthworms are also missing in the desert southwest, it is to dry for them. It also appears California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia were also "earthworm free" before being settled in the 1800s.

The problem in Texas seems to be native earthworms NOT introduced earthworms, but may also be introduced night-crawlers, but no one is reporting the species, just that they are in the middle of the road:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3112976/Mystery-earthworm-herds-Creatures-Texas-behaving-strangely-storms-no-one-knows-why.html

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Response to ellenrr (Original post)

Sun Jun 7, 2015, 07:30 AM

2. This is not surprising considering that the ground is saturated with water.

Earthworms thrive in moist soil, but they will drown if in water. All my life it has been a common sight to see earthworms on sidewalks and other "dry" places after heavy rains. The extreme weather may be a symptom of climate change but earthworms trying to escape drowning is just a result of the heavy rains.

edit to add: People these days spend so little time outdoors that often natural occurrences surprise them.

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 7, 2015, 07:50 AM

3. Exactly.. and it has been shown the clumps along the highway center line are merely the affect

of road construction that creates the center line as the "high" point for drainage... Obviously in heavy rains, worms will migrate to the high point.

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 9, 2015, 09:33 PM

8. Exactly - what's surprising is the surprise.

The old folks used to know that if you wanted to get fishing bait, you would go out with a bucket after heavy rains and just scoop 'em up.

I had a grandmother who used to transplant earthworms to her garden that way. When the soil gets too wet they have to come up to breathe. And they have to get out of standing water - they probably clump so they can clamber up over each other.

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 9, 2015, 09:58 PM

9. They might be having sex

If I remember correctly from high school biology earthworms are bisexual, male on one end and female on the other.

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 9, 2015, 10:11 PM

10. Only if the rain is alcoholic!

Just kidding. They might be.

Worm clumping is an interesting topic, but I have thought that they do it when exposed out of adaptation - worms above ground are subject to predation, and the chances of any single worm being chomped up is less when they mass.

It does seem that they act that way when exposed:
http://www.allaboutworms.com/worms-that-crawl-together

Birds flock and fish shoal for that reason, or so scientists say.

There is the theory that they communicate:
http://www.wormfarmingsecrets.com/general-worm-composting/why-do-composting-worms-bundle-together/

But sharing secretions might be just as important for exposed earthworms:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8604000/8604584.stm

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Response to ellenrr (Original post)

Sun Jun 7, 2015, 11:28 AM

4. Texas has had some very strange weather over the last ten years

The repeated changes in the weather may be a factor

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Response to ellenrr (Original post)

Tue Jun 9, 2015, 10:27 AM

7. This appears to be native earthworms, not introduced Night-Crawlers.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3112976/Mystery-earthworm-herds-Creatures-Texas-behaving-strangely-storms-no-one-knows-why.html

On the other hand, I can NOT find any report on the actual SPECIES of earthworm in these clumps. The only scientific report just points out the middle of the road is the high point, each lane is banked so water flows to the side of the road. Thus the middle of the road is the high point of the road, and if you want to stay out of the water that is where you go (and worms will thus go to the middle of the road). Thus this may be introduced invasion European Earthworms, but Texas does have native earthworms for it was NOT affected by the Glaciers during the Ice Age.

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