Visible to the naked eye, bugs, spiders, earthworms, snails, slugs – all have their place in a functioning soil ecosystem.
The bigger soil organisms act as soil life transport systems and incubators among other roles. Hitch a ride with a beetle, breed and get released elsewhere after your journey through the earth worm gut, speaking from the perspective of a microbe 😉
Here are some resources to get to know them better:
Earth worms: An annual earth worm survey is very insightful, can help us celebrate the successes of our improved soil care, or prompt to adjust our management.
I learned one valuable lesson though – earth worms alone are not an indicator of a functioning soil food web on the microscale. Even with a very good number of earth worms, and predatory macroscopic organisms such as centepedes I was surprised at the lack of microbiological complexity when I finally looked at soil under the microscope – “nobody home”.
One hypothesis is, that a lot of soil life has generalist feeding habits, and thus is quite adaptable. However, whilst this may work in the animal chain, it leaves serious gaps for the feeding habits of plants – with consequences for their health and productivity.
And if you want to really get close and personal, here is an earth worm identification key.
And if you really get the earthworm bug, you might end up joining the earth worm society!
More to follow…
As always, please let us know what other resources are valuable to you in the comments.