Dave the worm takes UK record

The largest earthworm ever recorded in the UK has been found in a vegetable plot in Cheshire, report Natural History Museum scientists.

The largest earthworm ever recorded in the UK has been found in a vegetable plot in Cheshire, report Natural History Museum scientists. 

Paul Rees from Widnes spotted the 40 centimetre-long Lumbricus terrestris in his vegetable patch. His stepson George named it Dave. 

Emma Sherlock, Museum scientist and chair of the Earthworm Society of Britain is astonished by the find: ‘I was bowled over by the size of this worm when I opened the plastic box they sent it in. Not only is it really long, it is almost twice as heavy as any other wild earthworm ever seen, weighing the same as a small chocolate bar. I look forward to seeing if anyone can find an even bigger example by taking part in the Earthworm Watch survey this autumn.’

The worm weighs 26g, trouncing the previous largest worm found in Scotland last year, and will become part of the scientific collection at the Museum. The record for other wild earthworms is 15g. Earthworms have lots of predators and normally do not survive in the wild to reach Dave’s size.

Emma comments: ‘With worms this size Paul must have an incredibly fertile and well-drained veg plot with decaying matter quickly recycled back into the soil. Earthworms are incredibly important to keep soils healthy.’

Earthworm Watch is a survey of earthworms and soil quality run by the Museum and the Earthwatch Institute in association with the Earthworm Society of Britain.

Earthworms improve soil fertility and ability to store carbon by mixing in dead plant material, and their burrows increase the amount of air and water that can enter. The Earthworm Society of Britain is running courses and events up and down the country for people to learn more about these creatures.


Notes to editors

Media contact: tel: +44 (0) 20 7942 5654/+44 (0)7799 690151 Email: press@nhm.ac.uk

Images: Please download from here and credit: © Trustees of the NHM, London 

For more on Earthworm Watch, click here 

  • The Natural History Museum welcomes more than five million visitors a year and is a world-leading science research centre. The Museum was named the Cultural Attraction of the Year at the London Lifestyle Awards 2016, voted by the public. Through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling the biggest challenges facing the world today. It helps enable food security, eradicate disease and manage resource scarcity. It is studying the diversity of life and the delicate balance of ecosystems to ensure the survival of our planet. nhm.ac.uk
  • The Earthworm Society of Britain (ESB) is a non-profit organisation that was set up in 2009 to ensure that earthworms are represented in the biological recording community and wider biodiversity sector. The society is run entirely by volunteers and funded through grants, membership subscriptions and donations. earthwormsoc.org.uk
  • Earthwatch Institute is an international environmental charity, bringing individuals from all walks of life together with world-class scientists to work for the good of the planet. Our vision is a world in which we live within our means and in balance with nature.
  • The Earthwatch community is growing rapidly, from members of the general public who join our expeditions, to corporate employees, educators and students. All bring their knowledge, passion, and experience to support our work, improve scientific understanding, and inspire change. www.eu.earthwatch.org

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