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No worms! Hiding from heat or are these centipedes (? might be millipedes) eating them.

A garden that was really overgrown - was well maintained then have not done anything to it for a couple of years - working on sorting it out at the moment.
I know in the past I have seen quite a few earthworms -but this year I haven't seen a single worm. (I know -I am worm phobic so look for them and avoid them and won't touch earth without gloves on - just looking at them wriggle from a distance makes me shiver.)
The soil is still mainly loose/aerated in the borders, was under a thick layer of rotted fallen leaves, seems like quite good soil - lots of organic matter, signs that it has been supplemented with homemade compost in the past. (There was a couple of compost bins and I find peach stones and the odd fruit label.) 
It has hardly rained here for weeks and weeks so is very dry  but was dampish under the rotted leaves  -not wet but not dust dry. Also I am trying to revive the lawn - (was overgrown, cut back and scarified there are lots of gaps so have over planted lawn seed and fed it)  so have been watering it in the evenings -  not soaking it but making it damp - and even pulling up dandelion roots - have not seen a single worm.
What I have seen quite a few of are pale yellow/cream centipedes (I think they are are -not millipedes but will try and get a photo of one of them and post later.) They are quite low down in the soil -never really seen (or at least noticed) them before.
I am worried they are/have been eating the worms ....I might not like worms but I do know that they are good for the soil. Does that sound possible/likely? Or are the worms just hiding from the heat? Is anyone else suffering a dearth of worms?
If these centipedes are eating the worms - I think I should be trying to get rid of them -picking them out and killing them? - not leaving them. I would probably do it on the off chance but something has been breaking up the soil and without worms these seem like the only possible candidates.


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,545
    Worms like to stay cool and moist so they'll be going down deep to escape the heat.

    Look out also for NZ flatworms that eat native worms.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,836
    They're part of a healthy soil ecosystem whether they eat worms or not. For all you know they could be eating things that eat worms so you'd do more harm by removing them on the off chance.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • lusi83lusi83 Posts: 19
    So is noone else seeing any worms? I haven't seen any type of worm at all - not a one - I see lots of spiders, few snails, few woodlice and lots of these centipedes...
    I now have a picture and they are definitely centipedes and I see about one per two spades and there are baby ones too. They must be very happy.
    I was digging in a overshadowed/darkish area at the bottom of a slope and the soil was really quite wet -still no worms -but these were there!
    I have read that centipedes eat small earthworms - do I really not need to be worried?

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,836
    They're part of a healthy soil ecosystem whether they eat worms or not. For all you know they could be eating things that eat worms so you'd do more harm by removing them on the off chance.

    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    I have a zillion worms, but they do hide in the heat. Try searching again in October, after rain. If there's lots of organic matter in the soil, they should be there.

    In March, when I was out in the night, slug hunting, I would see a certain type of worm come up and crawl across soil and gravel. When I went to pick it up, or shine a torch on it, the worm would dive, lightning quick - huge with very strong muscle.  I wondered if they came up to mate. It looked like they were moonbathing.
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,464
    I have plenty of worms in my garden - I find them every time I am digging either to remove plants or to plant them. If your soil is very wet the worms will avoid it. As Obelixx says, they will have gone even deeper into the ground to escape the heat or to find damper soil.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • lusi83lusi83 Posts: 19
    Thanks everyone ...OK I will not worry yet -wait till autumn and if there still aren't any worms then worry. Like I said considering it has been so neglected the borders are still well aerated -so something has been working the soil -hopefully I just have heat shy worms What worried me was I've never noticed these centipedes before and definitely not in these numbers...I was wondering if they were a foreign species that had been introduced some way or another so were upsetting the ecosystem. I saw a website that had images of some that were similar - I think the same but I'm not a centipede ID expert - and it said they were predominantly found in the SE (and I'm in Scotland). But they didn't say they were foreign...or were harmful to earth worms. Like I said I haven't seen any NZ flat worms - no worms at all - but watching a thing about them they showed their egg sacs shiny berry like things. I saw something similar in a border but it was quite deep and there was some old builders debris that deep - so I thought it was some drops of bitumen or something. Wish I'd had a better look at it -no chance of finding then again now...but will watch out for any more.
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    Good to keep an eye on it.
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,009
    Whenever I move or empty a container, I always find centipedes. I ignore them. I have industrial quantities of worms. 
    I wouldn't worry about them :)
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • lusi83lusi83 Posts: 19
    Thought I'd come back to update. I did find a couple more of what I thought were empty egg sacs so was pretty convinced I must have NZ flatworms...
    However I now know I  do - have seen adults for the first time last week.
    I found 3 in total  - 2 under adjacent paving stones and one under some black weed control fabric... none near where I found the egg cases and in quite separate areas of the garden. Since then I have put black bags out as 'traps' but so far haven't found any more only a mucus spot that looks like it is where one was. I am now wondering if these centipedes are eating the flatworms ...I still see lots of these centipedes.
    As for earthworms - I have seen one 'normal' worm and this funky one (posted on ispot, image here ) that seems to be a rare type of earth worm (was told by a worm expert it is  possibly Octolasion tyrtaeum)
    And that's all. I have another garden about 1 mile away and it is teeming with worms . I am super careful that I don't transfer any flat worms to it...
    The flat worms went into a jar of salt which I am now keeping handy.

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