06/10/2015, by Steve Galloway

Worm Charming

As part of the microscopy module we spend a day looking at soil biodiversity and in amidst the leaf litter sorting, looking at springtails and thrips we also try and catch as many worms as possible. To do this we try and get them to emerge using the OPAL (Open Air Laboratory) kits where you pour a dilute mustard solution on the ground and then try and tempt them out with dancing. Alternatively, and slightly weirdly, they come to the surface with greater vigour when charmed with dancing. Do they prefer dancing to mustard? Yes, we did find six species and several hundred worms. The data was logged onto the OPAL website to add to their worm distribution maps. All of us worm charmers returned to the laboratory rather more tired (and maybe a little fitter) than when we started.

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