It’s no the most usual question i get, but as winter approaches, people want to know if earthworms deserve to survive v winter in places such as worm bins, garden beds or compost piles.

You are watching: What do earthworms do in the winter


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These are just a couple of of countless red wiggler worms residents in my worm bin and breaking under all the inputs into nutrient-rich vermicompost.


It’s one understandable concern. We gardeners occupational so hard to produce an setting to tempt worms and also promote your reproduction all v the year. The last thing we want to perform is see it all involved an finish as the weather transforms frosty.

Specifically, the concern that triggered me to compose this write-up came native an city gardener that was increasing earthworms in his indoor bin—specifically under the sink in his kitchen. His wife had uncovered his obsession and relegated the worms come an external existence. Yet v no genuine garden in which come go, he was worried that his cultivation collection the apartment raised wigglers would accomplish their device if his bin was relocated come the frigid outdoors.

This is among those bad news, an excellent news answers. My answer to this newbie worm farmer’s inspection went something choose this; “No Wally, her worms won’t endure winter,” i wrote. I went top top to define that every was not lost though.

Although worms can’t endure freezing temperatures, they lay eggs that space encased and protected by very tiny cocoons. They can endure through winter to arise as tiny infant worms, as soon as temperatures heat up again. The worms Wally was worried around losing would be replaced by a contingency plan, cleverly crafted mine none various other than mommy Nature herself. Wally would have brand-new worms when the weather warmed.

Worldwide, over there are approximately 6,000 earthworm species, when only around 30 are uncovered in the joined States. And also the most renowned of every in the garden are commonly known together red wigglers. Since they live mainly in simply the upper layers of soil and amongst leaf debris, lock a familiar sight in compost piles and gardens. Yet, because they never ever burrow far sufficient into the floor to prevent freezing temperatures, lock don’t survive those conditions.

Fortunately, the egg laid before their demise administer sufficient replacements next spring.

Other earthworms, such as the common night crawler can survive winter problems by burrowing deep into the soil, below the frost heat (the level below the soil surface ar in which groundwater freezes). That street varies based on different parts of the county, ranging from zero to 6 feet in the coldest regions. Yet safely below the frost line, castle live out the winter in little cavities or chambers.

Since night crawlers nothing truly hibernate, you may uncover them reemerging throughout a period of unseasonably warm weather and also returning deep below ground as soon as the weather turns cold again.

Escaping the cold is just component of what allows worms to survive through the winter. The other worry of food is in how they breathe. Worms don’t have actually lungs. Instead, they breathe with their skin, as long as it stays moist. To keep their skin moist v winter, they release fluid and also mucous that coats your body for everything time needed.

Under best conditions, scientists estimate the mean lifespan of earthworms that endure winters at four to eight year while the most common garden varieties live just one or 2 years. So every little thing time ours subterranean friends have on this earth (or in it), let united state celebrate all they perform to enhance the conditions of our soil and take lull in understanding they’ll be back to aid us in the garden, just around the time we need them most.

P.S: If you want to see much more of the worm bin whereby these red wigglers in the snapshot live, and also the video of us making it and also the step-by-step plans on how to do one yourself, I’ve attached to it every for you.


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AboutJoe Lamp"l

Joe Lamp"l is the Host and Executive Producer of the compensation winning PBS television series Growing A Greener World. Turn off camera, Joe dedicates his time to promoting sustainability v his popular books, blog, podcast series, and also nationally syndicated newspaper columns. Monitor Joe on Twitter


Comments

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Suzanne says

January 2, 2018 in ~ 10:20 AM


I have actually a variety of small compost bins situated next to mine chicken coop. I usage pine shavings top top a shelf and also collect the bird droppings daily. This, along with a little amount the kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and grass in the summer write my “compost” that I add to my organic garden. I let this stand for 6 months, before including to mine garden.

See more: You See A White Buoy With An Orange Crossed Diamond. What Should You Do?

Question… deserve to I include red wigglers come this mix? will they have enough to survive and thrive? will certainly they help the pile break down?

Many thanks. Ns love her show and listen come the podcasts all the time. Continued success.


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Gladys Hutson says

December 19, 2015 in ~ 8:54 AM


I so LOVE your show and all the you teach us. Girlfriend have had actually some really good shows around our pollinators this past year and I look front to hear about more of your adventures through your honey Bees.I, too, to be a Beekeeper and also am constantly trying to learn an ext of what I deserve to do to help our pollinators. Mostly I understand that we must teach ours children around this one of life, indigenous gardening come pollination come the arts of prepare the foods.I am helping to perform that in 2016 by joining a local organization referred to as “The eco-friendly Teacher Network” the end of Charlotte, NC. This non-profit team is pass these really lessons of stewardship to the youngsters in the Mecklenburg school System.My hope and dream is that we deserve to reach out to various other school systems anywhere the state and also beyond.Thank You because that ALL the you execute to teach us to be those good stewards that our mother Earth!!Respectfully,Gladys Hutson