Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Problems with evergreen sumac in San Antonio
May 03, 2012 - I planted 5 5-gallon (approximately 2 feet tall) evergreen sumac in early January. Since that time they have sprouted out new shoot with new leaves several times - every time the leaves have wilted a...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of leaves in Texas Mountain Laurel from Austin
June 25, 2012 - I planted a Texas Mountain Laurel in my Austin, TX yard this January. The tree was good sized (about 5 feet tall) when I planted it. Recently the leaves of the tree have started to turn yellow alon...
view the full question and answer

Treatment of mealy bugs on house plants
April 19, 2005 - I have some house plants that have a "fungi" that has appeared and spread from one to the others. I believe it is killing the plants. It is a white fuzz the is sticky to the touch. when i whip it...
view the full question and answer

Oak bark problems from Stillwater OK
May 14, 2012 - In my clients large oak tree there is bark stripped from the limbs in small pieces. No piece is larger than 1 inch by 1 inch and occurs on limbs high in the canopy. It does not look like squirrel doin...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted anacacho leaf browning
October 15, 2007 - I have just put my anacacho orchid into the ground and its leaves are turning brown and falling off. Is that normal for this time of year, or have I shocked it? What can I do to ensure its health?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.