Using The Flashlight On The Lawn

Welcome to Colleen’s Corner. This is a column meant for fun and some information About myself: I am Colleen Fielding, a Freelance Photographer you often see me on the side of the road  or in various places taking photos of different things animals, birds, places, people etc.  l have lived in Lumby just over 8 years,you have seen my photos in the newspaper (Lumby Valley Times) and once in awhile in the Vernon Morning Star, and the Lumby Art Gallery. Photography is my passion. Disclaimer:  The information on some of my photos that I write about a lot of times come from the Internet or books I research them, hopefully the facts are as close to the truth as I can come.

“Grab the flashlight” my stepfather Jack would say. No, our power wasn’t out, it just meant that it was time to go and get some Dew Worms on our lawn. Jack would water the lawn earlier in the evening, and when it was a little later it was a perfect time to collect the Dew Worms, other names they can go by are Earth Worms, and NightCrawlers as they can be very active at night time and early morning you will also see them crawling around in the rain. I would grab my pail, and the flashlight. I added some dirt to keep the worms alive. In the morning Jack and I would go down to the lake, he would put the worm on the hook for me, then the rest of the day we would go fishing. Jack loved to fish, he would go to the lake quite often. Sometimes it was just him, sometimes with friends. But a couple of times a month it was my turn. 

We caught Bass, and Trout on the days we went. One day my haul was quite a bit larger than Jack’s. I did a happy dance as this was my biggest haul ever. Jack laughed. We went home and showed my mom, she was very impressed. Jack took the fish and cleaned them. We had some for dinner, the rest went in the freezer for another time.

Dew Worms can be as large as about 25 cm in their length, while they are about 1 cm in diameter. Their head is usually a darker color  than their tail. Their skin is very slimy and smooth, while they have small bristles coming out of the skin to help them move. Dew Worms do not have eyes, instead they have different cells which make them sensitive to the light. They not only do not have eyes, but they also do not have ears, everything is done by vibration in the ground. So light and vibrations are how they find things. The Dew Worms also do not have any lungs, instead oxygen is absorbed through their skin. if they don’t get enough moisture and they dry out they will then suffocate and die. Did you know that sometimes if a  dew worm is cut in half it can still survive for a short time. Only the head end can regenerate into the lower end to make it a worm again, but they don’t usually live very long after being cut in half.

Dew Worms are Hermaphrodites (containing both male and female organs that are reproductive.) To reproduce Dew Worms must mate with the same species, the two Dew Worms will lie beside each other transferring sperm to each other. They each will lay capsules (eggs) in the spring and the fall, and from the capsules will be two tiny worms that are completely formed. Dew Worms are able to mate several times a year, laying quite a few eggs, but they may not have a lot of offspring. Their diet consists of dead leaves, other types of plant debris, bacteria, fungi, and also they will eat the remains of dead animals.

They have multiple uses, they are great to dangle off the end of your hook for fishing, aerate your soil, help with your composting,a  tasty treat for Robins and other wild birds, insects, frogs, fish (of course,)  toads, snakes, mice, moles,raccoons, bears, etc. Dew Worms are loaded with  animal protein which helps the birds and animals just as protein is good for us as well. 

Dew Worms are great for many things, but they also have a big downside: They can be a problem to your lawns, but they can also be trouble at an airport after a heavy rain. When there has been heavy rains at the airports the Dew Worms come out and are all over the asphalt, causing hoards of birds to come for their snack. The birds can fly into the plane engines, or into the windows of the cockpit. Every year airports spend a lot of money trying to control the overflow of the Dew Worms.

Here are a few ideas to keep the worms at bay in your lawns: aerate your lawns in the spring and fall, making sure to rake the lawn very well. Only water your lawn when it is needed, which by the way is not very often especially if we have a lot of rain that year. Even though Jack would water in the evening to bring out the Dew Worms for fishing in the morning, it really is not a good idea to do this. A patchy lawn can be improved by adding some fresh grass seeds, and if the lawn is too unhealthy you might have to tear it up and start with some new turf. Place a good amount of sharp sand over the areas on your lawn that are patchy. Dew Worms do not like to any abrasive surfaces under them, that’s why I was surprised to see this one crawling across the gravel

It has been known that Dew Worms can live about 3-8 years in the wild, but when they are in captivity they can possibly live up to ten years.

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