The rain came tumbling down this week so we took advantage of the elements and had a go at worm charming!
Worms are one of the few creatures on the planet which actually enjoy a refreshing rain shower. Because worms dry out in the air, they love to wriggle around on wet muddy ground. If they come up to the surface on a rainy day, the added moisture on their skin allows them to travel much faster than when they are tunnelling underground. This in turn helps them migrate more quickly.
Why not tempt them out of their burrows with an old fashioned rain dance? Worms will come up to the surface when they hear tapping or vibrations on the ground because they think it is raindrops. That’s why you can see birds stamping with their feet or knocking with their beaks in the garden – to mimic the sound of rain and lure the worms up – to their doom!
Our Little Explorers found sticks and stones to tap on the earth, and poured water on the ground with a watering can. Some people swear by using detergent to bring worms to the surface but we didn’t want to dump chemicals in our favourite wild space. We found that working on softer soil was much more successful than on hard mud. The children loved feeling the tickle of worms wriggling on their palms.
Pop a worm in your bug box for a good look under the magnifying glass. You can remind your Little Explorers to give the worms wet earth to rest on. Look at how they use their strong muscles and tiny hairs to grip and push their way along the ground.
See if you can find worm poo! These tiny toothpaste tube-like squirts of earth are called castings. They are the richest natural fertiliser on the planet.
Expert Explorers: Believe it or not, some people charm worms out of the ground in competitions! Worm charming, worm grunting or worm fiddling are methods of harvesting worms from the soil for fishing with. The skill involves making vibrations on the top of the soil to tempt the worms out, using sticks and blunted saws, or by twanging garden forks. In fact the World Worm Charming Championship takes places in Willaston, a village in Cheshire (www.wormcharming.com)
- Send us your photos of the worms you found! Or if you live in Willaston, please get in touch and share your expertise with us!