En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
4 ratings

Friday - August 04, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Beneficial earthworms attacked by fire ants
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Is there a right way or a trick to releasing earthworms? I have a friend who has an abundance of earthworms in their soil so I took advantage of the situation. I released them in my freshly tilled garden and made rows to release my worms. No ants were present I triple checked, this was in the evening I released them. I covered them up about 2-3 inches then watered them in, again no ants present and they seem to be likeing their new home digging down to explore. The next morning I was horrified to find about half a dozen of my prize worms covered with ants. I felt so bad. This happened twice, can you help? Or should I just leave the little fellas alone :-) Thanks, and by the way I love your name Mr.Smarty Plants Tammy


I am sorry you lost your earthworms. It sounds as if you have fire ants (Solenopsis spp.) and even though you did a thorough search for ants before you put the worms out, you wouldn't necessarily see the individual worker ants who were out foraging for a great protein-rich meal to feed the developing larvae and the queen in the nest. Ants have a keen sense of smell and they may forage 100 feet or more from their nests. When they smelled your earthworms they would have recruited some buddies and hurried over to take advantage of the great food source.

I don't hold out much hope for your introduction of earthworms into your garden unless you begin some ant control, too. The article above offers some environmentally friendly ways of controlling the ants. Meanwhile, here are some tips from Mother Earth News and from eHow.com about cultivating earthworms. Unfortunately, neither offers tips on how to protect them from attack by ants.

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Palm Leaves Turning Brown
October 03, 2015 - My palm plant leaves are turning brown starting at the tip and moving down the leaf. I've changed my watering amounts, and moved it from the direct light to partial light and back. It's not by any ...
view the full question and answer

Live oak leaves not dropping from Austin
April 29, 2014 - We had a 65 gallon live oak planted last October. We watered it regularly and it was green all through the winter. In March the leaves started to turn brown but never dropped, as they should have. ...
view the full question and answer

Insect damage on possumhaw
August 12, 2012 - We planted a small possumhaw in February of this year (2012). It had leaves and some berries and was doing real well until some bug starting eating the leaves and berries. I know it is not deer becau...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Achillea millefolium
May 28, 2007 - I had a clump of yarrow in my garden and was worried that it would become very aggressive to the other plants. I decided to transplant it into large clay pots to control it. Immediately after the tran...
view the full question and answer

Leaves turning brown in Fredonia KS
June 16, 2009 - Leaves turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center