Did you know earthworms are a really good source of protein? Well, so did everyone else in the animal kingdom and insect world! Did you know earthworms actually have a lot of enemies? yeah, it’s true! Our lovely little pink or red friends aren’t so beloved around the world, At least, not in a friendly way. They sure do make a nice little snack, tho. But what are earthworms predators?
The earthworms major predators
Unfortunately for the earthworm, It often finds itself dodging an enemy around every corner. Some are slow, some are fast, some are even blind. What are the earthworm predators? Let’s take a look at this quick, but not an exhaustive list.
- And, Humans
These aren’t the poor worms only enemies, however. That’s just the ones that want to eat them for breakfast. What about the predators who want to eat them from in the inside out!? Yuck! I get shivers just thinking about it!
But given the fact that, for Diptera, or otherwise known as the common house fly, or any fly with 2 wings, has over 7,000 different varieties just in the UK, and there’s even more in the united states. It’s no wonder you’re bound to find something that will really ruin your day.
Unfortunately, Our earthworm friend is very well acquainted with these particular insects. Why? Because they like to lay their eggs inside the poor guy!
Yeah, that was my reaction too when I first heard of these sorts of insects. Well, It turns out they particularly love earthworms. Hence the lovely protein snack comments in the intro to this article.
The most well known of these little savage parasites is the cluster fly. Cluster flies, aka Pollenia sp, lay their eggs, and when the maggot hatches its first job is to find an earthworm to dig its teeth into. This is done by its a very powerful sense of smell homed specifically for finding it’s new earthworm domicile.
Once found, It stabs it’s face (yes) into the side of the earthworm and consumes it’s organs. Yikes.
But don’t worry, these guy’s wont go after humans…yet!
Some other parasites that worms have to contend with:
- Cluster Flies
There are plenty more fly species’ maggots that are aggressive in this manner towards earthworms. You can check out a whole list of them here.
There are various beetles that too like to feast on some delicious worm protein. Heres a list:
- Ocypus olens
- and more!
Most of these native predators don’t even put a dent in the global worm population, but there are a few invasive species that really give the worm a run for its survival. One of these is called the Arthurdendyus triangulatus. It’s a flatworm species and it’s particularly aggressive to earthworms. Who comes up with these names anyway?
It’s an invasive species in the UK and it’s done some serious damage to the earthworm population, sometimes leaving entire swaths of land barren of all earthworm life. How? Well just like any other parasite, it gets in there and ravages the worms from inside. I would post a video but I don’t think you really want to see it, however, if you do it’s only a google search away you savage! (it’s quite disgusting, you can see them climb out of insects after they die).
Earthworms, They are our friends. Unfortunately, They have plenty of enemies they need to deal with. If you want your earthworms to be happy and healthy you must take care to avoid these predators. If you are farming in an industrial setting it is especially important as you could lose an entire warehouse worth of worms to a single infestation of parasites.