Newbie question about worms

dvdNJ(z6 NJ)July 15, 2009

Early this year (as I do every year) I piled up my spring cleanup. It composts itself and within a year or two 'disintegrates' -- I do not add anything except grass clippings occasionally. It's not really a 'working compost pile' as I never use the mulch for anything as it contains mostly twigs and hulls/bird-poop from underneath the bird feeders. Anyway, worms always populate in these piles, as expected. However, this year there was a population explosion (to put it mildly!), but the most interesting thing is these worms have a very distinctive fluorescent tinge to them! I have never seen anything quite like these worms in my piles in the past -- they are also much larger than 'standard' earthworms and much more active. Since this is so different from anything that I have ever seen in the 10+ years of spring clean-up piles, my curiosity is piqued. What in the world are these things?? thx!

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Hi dvdnj; Can you post a picture of them with a ruler to gage the size. I can think of two species they might be one is Lumbricus rubellus(red marsh worm/angle worm) the other common worm is Lumbricus terrestris (Canadian Nightcrawler, North American Nightcrawler,Dew worm). Young Nightcrawlers and older fatter angle worms are similar in appearence right down to the tail being flatened somewhat.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 7:51PM
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dvdNJ(z6 NJ)

lkittle, thank you. -- I think at one time someone said I would need access to a posting site to attach a picture. Is that correct? I do not have a web-page. Is there any other way? If not, can you send me a link to a site that may have images of those that you think they may be and I can compare. I'd say, off hand, they average about 6-8" -- thicker than a 'standard earthworm', but not as thick as what I have referred to as a 'nightcrawler'. The slightest activity gets them VERY wiggly -- but not like 'standard earthworms' that seem to try to bury under to get away, or curl up -- they remind me more like the way a snake would re-act. Again, very different than what I am accustomed to seeing in my compost piles. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:39PM
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DVD, there are a number of free picture hosting sites, check out, or just google free photo hosting.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:33PM
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For posting a pic or two, is probably the simplest. No need to sign up or register, just upload the photo and send the link.

Red Wigglers can have quite a shine to them in the right light, usually purplish or greenish. They can react pretty strongly when disturbed, curling into a circle and then uncurling to almost hop. That's why they're called Red WIGGLERS.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 11:18AM
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dvdNJ(z6 NJ)

Thank you all!! Mystery solved! I had never picked one up until you guys requested a pic. Now I realize that the iridescence, fluorescent 'glow' was as Wormy-Acres stated; due to the way the light hit -- once I picked them up, the fluorescence disappeared when the slime dried up! Prior they had been moving so fast I had thought the iridescence was actually in the color of the worm, and not its slime. (like my title stated: a newbie!!) I had never seen worms quite so iridescent before (the image is from an inexpensive camera and didn't quite capture the fluorescence very well) and so many of them to boot, (piles of glowing worms!) so it was quite intriguing! Thanks a bunch for all your suggestions and thoughts!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Hi dvdnj; The pic posted does resolve the question to some degree. It is probibly a Lr. the size is right and the red translucent skin is right and the yellow/orange clitellum is right. Red wigglers have a yellow tail tip and some Eisenia fetida for instance a yellow ring in each segment. The red tiger (E andrei) has dark and light red banding in the segments. It lso lacks the buff of the Ef.

The largest Eisenia hortenses another red compost worm is 5-6 "long and its coloration similar to Ef. Efs and Ea do not get larger than 4-5" in length.

You stated in your first post that the worm in question was much larger than the normal worm you have seen, I thought you had seen some normal size composting worms.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 4:01PM
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dvdNJ(z6 NJ)

Thanks, lkittle. After I initially posted this I decided it was time to turn the pile -- when I checked again to take the picture the 'ga-zillions' were gone -- just a few smaller ones. Maybe they were not 6"-8" as I originally thought -- after putting a tape measure to these -- but they were a bit larger than the one in the picture -- but probably less than 6". Wow -- listening to you guys, there is quite a science in worms and a lot of people with an interest in them. Pretty cool. thanks, again!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 8:49PM
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I agree with lkittle, I don't think that's a red wiggler. The whitish clitellum (thick part0 and lack of any horizontal bands aren't right for a red wiggler. Even 6" long would be *very* long for a red wiggler.

I'm not familiar enough with Lumbricus rubellus to ID one, but sounds possible.

Glad worked out for you. Very simple way to post a single picture to a forum.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 1:55AM
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