SEPTEMBER 4, 2020

Missouri: Earthworms Great for Bait, Not so Good for Environments

Often thought of as our friends, the common earthworm is not as beneficial as many believe. The Truth about Earthworms is a free MDC online program Friday, Sept. 11 from 12-1 p.m. that will reveal their downsides, and who our real native allies in the soil are.

Many people think of them as helpful little critters, but you might be surprised to learn they’re not so beneficial after all.

St. LOUIS, Mo.—Invaders can come in many forms. Just like the plot of a horror movie, some of them might even seem benign and helpful, while they secretly wreak havoc. You might be surprised to discover that earthworms are just such creatures.

The Truth about Earthworms is a free online program presented by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and takes place Friday, Sept. 11 from 12-1 p.m. The presentation is free and open to all ages.

“Most earthworms are not actually native to the United States and were brought here by European settlers,” said MDC Naturalist Rena Schmidt. “They may be known to be great for gardens and fishing bait, but they can have enormous negative effects on our forest ecosystems,” she said.

Join MDC naturalists for an illuminating investigation into these segmented, slimy, tunneling creatures and why and how they are actually harmful to our forests. Earthworms affect soil by depleting resources in forest floors and reduce the diversity of plants. Find out also how you can help stop their spread into our vulnerable forests.

You’ll also learn about our true native allies in decomposition, like bacteria, fungi, nematodes and millipedes, and their valuable roles in the ecosystem. Naturalists will employ a video microscope to give an up-close look at the tiny invertebrates that inhabit our soil.

The Truth about Earthworms is a free virtual program, but advanced online registration is required at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z2k. Attendees will receive an invitation by email from the MDC Event Management System and a WebEx program link the day before the program.

MDC offers many free educational programs in the St. Louis region to help people discover nature, fishing, hunting, and the outdoors. Stay informed by going to the MDC St. Louis reginal events page at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZP6.