Archive for 1 November 16

spotted knapweed looks kind of pretty… until you find out that it’s an invasive species from Europe and Asia, (thanks!) and poisonous to other plants.


Yesterday’s Phenology: A gray day. (Or a grey dey.)  But warmish (60s) and breezy. A good day for getting things done. Leaves are blowing around like they should on a Halloween night, and it’s a drizzling rain as it should be on a Halloween Night.
I was moving some things in the yard and noticed — as a good phenologist ought – that there were worms under some of the big pots. A bit of research reveals a few interesting facts: 1) all the earthworms in Minnesota are invasive species from Europe and Asia. There’s no evidence that there were native earthworms before this, and some say that the glaciers killed off all the native earthworms, and that, for the last 11,000 years, the Minnesota ecosystem developed without earthworms. Seriously.
This phenologist is skeptical of this theory. My source, the DNR, says that native earthworms were either “too slow” to move north (they must be pretty darn slow not to make it up here in 11,000 years…) or unable to withstand the harsh Minnesota winters. (I’m skeptical of that too, but mostly because of the first proposed “theory” that native worms couldn’t make it up here in 11,000 years.) 2.) Night Crawlers are different from earthworms. They burrow deeper to survive the winters, and they come out at night to.. to crawl about. Hence their name. Night Crawlers is almost too good a name for these worms. There’s a certain menace in the words Night Crawler that the worm cannot live up to. And thank god that they don’t, I guess. 3.) There is no number three. 4.) Earthworms, generally speaking, do not go as deep in the ground as Night Crawlers, and generally do their work during the day and evening shift. There are undoubtedly exceptions to this general rule. Much depends upon the economy.  5.) Charles Darwin, in his last book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits (1881), reported that his studies demonstrated that worms were both intelligent and benevolent. (Which is a lot more than can be said for… well, I digress.) Later research cast doubt upon both Darwin’s methods and conclusions. However, a recent study at Rockefeller University shows that worms (roundworms in this particular instance) show signs of free will (also known as “indecision” or “fickleness”) – which might imply intelligence, though not quite benevolence.) As one scientist says: “in essence, what the worm is thinking about at the time determines how it responds.”
Which, to me, raises the big question: what are the worms thinking about?
As usual, more studies are needed.

Incidentally, John D. Rockefeller, widely considered to be the richest American of all time, founded both Rockefeller University and the University of Chicago, and also provided major funding for Spelman College in Atlanta, a college for African-American women. Rockefeller is considered to have revolutionized charitable giving, creating foundations focused on science, public health, education, and more.

Song of the day: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, I Put a Spell on You