Large worms in my waterbutts

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mikepearce45
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Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby mikepearce45 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:34 pm

In one of my three waterbutts, which has a minimal level of water in it, I have a large number(60/100) of worms. They are wriggling around in two distinct groups and are very active and appear to be around 2/3 inches in length. This particular butt is freestanding ie not connected to any water source, is situated on six concrete blocks (so is off the ground) and has a tight fitting lid so no apparent entry source.

I have three questions please - 1) What variety of worms are they? 2) by removing them, say to my compost bin, would they survive? 3) how did they get in there in the first place?

Any thoughts / comments gratefully anticipated!
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tigerburnie
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby tigerburnie » Tue Jun 02, 2020 2:46 pm

A picture would be helpful
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Monika
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby Monika » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:21 pm

Are you sure they are worms and no fly larvae? I would be inclined to tip them out onto some soil, avoiding edible crops, clean out the butt and start again.
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mikepearce45
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby mikepearce45 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 6:10 pm

Agree that a photo will make things easier. Will post one later.
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mikepearce45
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby mikepearce45 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:01 pm

Photo attached - Having now seen them close up, they look remarkably similar to the worms in the compost heap.

IMG_1394.JPG
IMG_1394.JPG (2.23 MiB) Viewed 1696 times
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tigerburnie
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby tigerburnie » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:09 pm

They look like Brandlings, which do live in compost heaps, I take it they are dead as they won't be able to breathe in water, how they got there is a mystery, perhaps due to the current drought, they could smell the water and fell in? I do find them in our wildlife pond too.
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mikepearce45
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby mikepearce45 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:41 pm

tigerburnie - they are certainly not dead, they can best be described as a "writhing mass of animal life". I transferred them all into a smaller container and watched them, there were no dead ones.

All now in my compost bin. Strange that there were no worms in the other two butts but the "infested" one is within a few feet of the active compost bin, unlike the other two which are situated elsewhere in the garden.
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judyk
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby judyk » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:48 am

Hi, I think that earthworms can live for quite a few days in water, as they take in oxygen via water on their skins. If it's been dry there for quite a while they probably did fall in looking for water, and as the heavy rain is recent, they survived until you found them. I'm sure they'll be happy to be back home in your compost, which should now be nicely dampened for them!
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Monika
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby Monika » Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:08 pm

If your waterbutts are lidded, I wonder if the worms were attached underneath the lid (as they often are under the lids of compost bins) and they dropped into the water when the lid was lifted? Just a thought.
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mikepearce45
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby mikepearce45 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:24 pm

judyk and Monika - thanks for your thoughts. The butt is lidded but not sealed so I am assuming that the worms smelt water and made their way up the side of the butt. There were so many of them, I did in fact refer to them as a "writhing mass of animal life" in a previous post as there were between 50 and 100 of them. The above picture captured only a small number and there were certainly no dead ones seen in the container once I had tipped them out of the butt. That butt is in fact close to an active compost and, as mentioned by tigerburnie, they look like Brandlings so it could be possible they made their way from the compost into the butt during the recent spell of hot weather. The butt is now full of water once again and I am inspecting it regularly for any signs of more worms.
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sally wright
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby sally wright » Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:57 pm

Dear Mike,
what you are seeing is the result of a process called aestivation. This is the summer hibernation of juicy tings in the garden such as worms, slugs and snails etc. When the weather is very dry, worms will try to find a moist place where they can sit out the dry summer. If you dig during dry weather you will often find worms etc curled up in a hole far below the surface. Your worms seem to have gotten more than they bargained for in terms of moisture.... They are better off tucked into the bottom of the compost heap rather than your water tank.
Regards Sally Wright.
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mikepearce45
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby mikepearce45 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:26 pm

Hi Sally,

Now that's interesting and would certainly explain why they were in the waterbutt. Also explains why I encountered few surface worms when digging in the veg plot a couple of days ago until I reached a spade's depth when more were in evidence.

I did in fact tip the original worms into a compost bin a few days ago so hopefully, they are living happily now that the rains have come.

Thanks for your post.

Best wishes, Mike
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daxtell71
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Re: Large worms in my waterbutts

Postby daxtell71 » Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:58 pm

We found a similar thing when emptying and moving our water butt a couple of weeks ago and wondered what they were doing in there. So many thanks for the very interesting thread and explanation.
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