WORMS IN THE WILD
Red composting worms (Eisenia foetida) are not indigenous to Canada there is some debate as to their origin including arguments for European, Asian and Indian decent. Ours came from the warmth of Kentucky. Suffice it to say they are here now and they’ll be staying. Introduced by accident or design we can protect them in winter and have out-door colonies living on the cold prairies of Manitoba. Could they become an invasive species, we don’t think so.
It’s very doubtful they would survive without human intervention. A worm in the bush will never be eaten by the proverbial bird in the hand. Composting worms are leaf litter worms and don’t actually live in soil, they are constantly seeking the decomposing organic material on the surface, the compost. They would have a difficult time finding food to grow their populations in most of the Eco-systems of Canada and can not tolerate below zero temperatures. The worms we overwinter are found in large composting manure piles that never freeze solid. That said we have found them in and around the garden.
When we used unscreened Vermicast in the garden that still contained live worms, we have found the occasional red worm hanging around under a board or a pile of mulch. Still human assistance was required to get them there in the first place, it’s not that they’re migrating. We add vermicompost ever year so there is no evidence that they have in fact overwintered.
The local worm populations, be it Dew worms or Earthworms live in a different strata of the soil, have different food requirements and habits, there’s no competition between the species. If red worms are going to invade it will be your manure pile, but only if your lucky. This topic is certainly still up for review so if you would like to share your experiences with worms in the wild please drop us a line here in the comments or on visit us on Facebook.