Here at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we love worms and value them for all they do for organic gardening, house plants and our ecosystem.
Our famous Red Wigglers are amazing composters that will turn any ordinary garden into a beautiful lush that produces much bigger and healthier looking foods.
However, not all worms are beneficial for us. Some of the worms we encounter can be harmful if touched or ingested. It’s important to know the differences between good and bad worms to keep you and your pets out of trouble.
Most worms you’ll encounter won’t pose any threat to you or your pets. These include earthworms, redworms, nightcrawlers and more. We recommend buying a worm identification guide so that when you do come across an unusual looking specimen (aren’t all worms unusual looking?) that causes you to have concern, you can refer to your guide and find out if it’s something you need to be worried about or not.
Good worms clean up soil by consuming organic matter. Furthermore, they make soil fertile. They create pathways in soil that helps oxygen and water reach plant roots! Good worms are vital to our ecosystem!
Just like there are a lot of good worms out there, there are a lot of harmful worms too.
Nematodes are one of the most numerous animals on the planet. They are tiny creatures that typically grow to about 1 millimeter long, and for that reason, they are hard to spot with the naked eye. However, huge numbers of nematodes can be found in soil. Some are good and some are bad. The good ones are predatory and prey on other invertebrate pests including parasitic nematodes.
Bad nematodes are parasitic and can inflict just about any animal including humans, pets and marine wildlife such as whales. Did you know that a 26 foot long nematode was once found in a Sperm whale? Some of the more common parasitic nematodes that we know of include roundworms, hookworms and heartworms. These worms can be seriously harmful to your liver if they grow and multiply for long periods of time.
Flatworms are another type of worm that has both beneficial and harmful species. Some are predatory and others are parasitic. The most commonly known parasitic flatworm is the tapeworm. Tapeworms dwell in the intestines of animals and live off of food that passes through the digestive tracts. In land animals, tapeworms are known to grow up to 65 feet in length. In marine animals like whales, they have been recorded growing up to 100 feet in length!
Insect larvae are often considered worms. Inchworms and cankerworms (moth larvae) are destructive to crops and considered a pest by many farmers and organic gardeners.
Bristle worms are perhaps the most commonly seen marine worm. One of the easiest ways to distinguish a bristle worm is the prominent bristles that protrude off their bodies. One harmful kind of bristle worm is the fireworm, which is harmful to aquariums and to human health. They have hundreds of sharp fiberglass-like bristles that can poke you and it will hurt! Not all bristle worms are bad. Some of the smaller ones are actually very beneficial to aquariums. It’s up to you to identify them so that you know what you’re up against.
Avoiding Harmful Parasites
One of the most common ways people and their pets are introduced to parasites is through infected fleas and rodents. These inflected animals can pass a parasitic worm on to your pet and from your pet to you. It’s important to have your pets checked on a regular basis for fleas so that you can eliminate the problem before it starts. All it takes is a few fleas to leap off your pet onto your dinner plate and you may find yourself in a lot of discomfort shortly thereafter!
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is a vermicomposting company located in the USA. The above image is not our own. The above facts and information was gathered to spread awareness about the beneficial and harmful effects that come to us through different species of worms.