Worm Wisdom: Elkhart middle schoolers create unique project

ELKHART Summer is notorious for pesky critters like mosquitoes and ticks, both of which can be dangerous if infected with disease. But there's another creature, one often considered a friend to farmers and gardeners, that is actually invasive in the wild.

According to some naturalists, earth worms are not indigenous to North America. The worms migrated with European settlers.

"They're wonderful in the garden, but you get them in the woods and they start to compete with the local population that lives in the leaf litter," said Fred DeFerbrache, the Executive Director at the Woodlawn Nature Center.

"Because they are so effective at eating the leaf litter, they don't leave anything," said DeFerbrache.

One species of earthworms is well known for its ability to compost and create rich fertilizer. Those are known as Red Wigglers, or Eisenia foetida. A pair of Elkhart sisters are learning about those worms and creating a special project for the Woodlawn Nature Center.

"We're doing worm farms because we really like to help nature and the nature center," said 5th grader, Jillian DeFerbrache.

She and her 6th grade sister, Anastasia, are constructing a worm farm to earn the Bronze Medal for Junior Girl Scouts.

"The point of it is so people can also kind of learn about it and they can also learn how to make how to like build a little one of their own," said Anastasia.

The girls are no strangers to the great outdoors. Their grandfather, Fred, is the Executive Director at Woodlawn. They spend quite a bit of time at the center and enjoy getting outside.

"I love nature," said Anastasia. "I'm camping every year."

The project is still in the development stage, but it should be on display at Woodlawn in September.

To learn more about composting, click here for a link to a helpful website.

Other fun facts about worms:

One worm is both male and female.
Some species can regenerate.
Worm castings are known as the richest, natural fertilizer.
There are thousands of species of Earthworms worldwide.
Of the nearly 200 earthworm species in the US, 60 are invasive.

Click here for more facts about Earth worms.


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