Species of the month

Species of the Month: Brandling worm

Brandlings worms © Mitch Perkins

Help us with our wildlife surveys

Our Species of the Month species surveys are an important way you can help us.  Records are sent to DERC (Dorset Environmental Records Centre) who collate this information to build up a picture of the of the state of Dorset's wildlife. So please help us help wildlife by filling in the form below. Thank you!

April Species of the Month: Brandling worm

Scientific Name: Eisenia fetida

Identification

Brandling worms are ‘stripy’ worms which are also called Tiger worms.  They are reddish-brown with pale bands round the body.  Adults are typically 6cm long and found in compost. 

Brandlings worms © Mitch Perkins

Brandlings worms © Mitch Perkins

Diet

Brandling worms thrive on decaying organic matter which is why they love the kitchen scraps in your garden compost! 

Behaviour

Brandling worms are surface dwelling worms (epigeic) and not found in garden soil.  They can exude an unpleasant-smelling yellow liquid if roughly handled.  

Did you know?

  • Brandling worms are amazing recyclers!  They convert organic matter into ‘compost’ which provides nitrogen and phosphorus to plants for healthy growth. 

    Like their earthworm ‘cousins’, each brandling has both male and female reproductive organs (hermaphrodite) so they don’t have to search too far for a mate!  They also have 5 ‘hearts’! 

    Brandlings are brilliantly adapted for living in compost: they don’t have ‘eyes’ but can sense light through special photo receptor cells, they ‘hear’ by sensing vibrations through their bodies and breathe through their skin!  

Where can they be found?

Commonly found in compost bins, rotting manure heaps and piles of wet, decaying leaves.  

Wildlife gardening tips

Make or buy a compost bin!  Not only will this generate free compost to feed your plants, it will help save precious peat bogs which support rare plants and animals.  Please remember to only buy peat free composts!!! 

Compost bins also provide healthy snacks for your garden wildlife.  Brandling worms make a tasty meal for blackbirds, robins and starlings.  If you have a plastic bin, leave the lid off occasionally to allow birds get to their dinner! 

A home-made, wooden bin is best as birds can access it all the time.  You will also be providing a warm home, as well as a ‘super snack’, for slow worms. 

Join our campaign for more information on how you can help stop the decline of invertebrates:  Take Action for Insects  

Find out about other things you can do to help garden wildlife: Backyard Nature  

Species of the Month sightings form

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Blue tit © Stewart Canham