So it seems when you have really smart people doing research, you find out some really cool things! Emma Harrison, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Aria Kovalovich, an undergrad, found that worms, or rather “wormholes”, help stabilize the soil mantle (that’s big science for “dirt”) and prevent landslides.
When they burrow, it turns out they are smooshing the dirt and stabilizing it which helps keep it in place while aerating it at the same time.
Here in Dallas, our soils are nice and dense — usually a mix of clay with a little topsoil. When we “fertilize” our lawns or put down “weed killer”, we disrupt the chemistry in the soils and the worms either suffer and move away or die — costing us the natural benefits of organic fertilizer from their waste and aeration to help rainwater penetrate deeper. If we are more mindful of the way we maintain our yards, we can keep the natural balance that allows these animals to thrive and make our lawns even more healthy and beautiful.
If you’d like to learn more about the study and how worms are such an awesome resource, click on this link: http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/wormholes-may-limit-landslides