Since I was just a child, I thought worms were fun. Maybe that was because my earliest memories about worms had to do with helping my aunt dig in layers of composting leaves to find fishing worms. What could be more fun for a preschooler than digging in mud to find cute, little wiggly critters?
It is my theory that all young children love worms until that older sibling throws the worm on the unsuspecting younger child, who is then convinced the worm has something to do with the trauma. Otherwise, children seem more than eager to befriend any earthworm without reserve. But even though I grew up with a positive view of worms, I really had no idea what amazing creatures they really are, filling an invaluable role in our world.
It was said by Charles Darwin concerning worms that “it may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” Earthworms could be called ‘ecosystem engineers’ due to how they significantly modify the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. They transform waste by releasing the nutrients locked up in the organic matter, and they produce microbe-enriched castings that promote “living soil.” This just scratches the surface of the impact worms have in our world.
So the next time you find a worm as you dig in your garden, I hope you take the time to remember with gratitude what a positive impact this friendly and fun creature makes to our environment. I hope it puts a smile on your face!