Do worms fall from the sky?

Have you ever wondered if worms fall from the sky? OK, probably not, but then why every time after it rains are there worms in the bottom of the bowls and buckets I leave sitting around the garden?  I was convinced that they must fall from the sky with the rain, but this is only partially right.

Most often, the worms that I see are these kind of tiny stringy things.  Palish in color, a little pink or brownish maybe, but not too often earthworm-like.  Turns out these are Horsehair worms (a.k.a. Cabbage Hair worms, or Gordian worms, depending on where you are from).  Not harmful to people, pets or plants, these are a beneficial worm to have around.

After mating in the spring and summer, the female will lay possibly millions of eggs on a thin strand.  When the eggs hatch into microscopic larvae, they attach themselves to plants and wait for an munching insect host to parasitize (often grasshoppers, cockroaches, and crickets).  Once eaten up along with the plant material by the host insect, they turn around and rob their host of all nutrients, and then emerge as adults when their host comes in contact with water.

I guess sometimes that water is rain, rain puddles, dog bowls, or the buckets left standing in the garden. And if it’s raining on the host insect (or it’s landed in your bucket of water) and the worm is ready to bust out of there, then that explains that.

I’m still not totally sure how the earthworms end up even in high-sided buckts and bowls.  I can see them splashing up in heavy downpours, or maybe they do just fall from the sky.

Written by Emma O’Connell, Founder of

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