What Do Worms Eat In The Wild? (The Diet Of Non-Captive Earthworms)

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Whether it is because you have earthworms in your garden and you are interested in how to ensure they are healthy and will thrive or are just fascinated by them, the subject of what earthworms eat is interesting.

The good news is that, unlike other animals and creatures, earthworms are not especially fussy about what they eat.

We understand that is quite a broad answer to the question, which is why we are going to look at the subject a little closer. As well as discussing what earthworms do eat in the wild, we will also touch upon the things they don’t eat.

What do worms like to eat and drink in the wild?

Although earthworms and surface worms prefer slightly different diets, there are types of food they will both happily eat.

A key to what they eat is the three main ingredients – algae, fungi, and bacteria.

That means anything that is even slightly organic, decaying, or even better, rotting.

It really depends on the type of worm, where they live and what food is actually available to them.

Different species have different sized mouths, but generally, inside all worms mouths you’ll find a crop, gizzard, oesophagus, pharynx, and intestine.

The pharynx and its acron or prostomium are what they use to pull food into their mouth.

They create a suction motion that makes it easier for them to consume large quantities of food in a relatively short period of time.

The gizzard is used to help grind down food to make it easier to digest.

Surface worms will eat everything from fruit and veg to dead animals and everything in between.

That means used coffee grounds, tea bags and even cardboard and wood shavings.

Some worms have even been known to eat small quantities of hair.

Parasitic worms like flatworms such as flukes and tapeworms and other related types and species are found inhabiting animal, human and plant bodies.

They basically eat everything and anything that their host consumes.

What Do Worms Need to Survive in The Wild?

Worms in the wild need four important things to survive – a favourable temperature, oxygen, moisture and, like all other animals and creatures on this planet, food.

What Do Earthworms Eat in Your Garden?

Earthworms of all types of worms, particularly those that dwell primarily below the surface, have it easiest really when it comes to food.

Earthworms eat the dirt around them, extracting from it the bacteria that contains all the nutrition they need to survive.

Thanks to their amazing design, they can breathe through their skin.

This makes it easy for them to spend almost all of their time beneath the surface.

They just eat, eat, and eat some more.

The only time they need to come to the surface and leave their very charmed and easy going underground lifestyle is when they need to breed.

After they have finished ensuring that their kind continues to live on, they can go back underground and enjoy some more tasty food.

Think what you like about their lifestyle, but it is one that has served them well for a very long time

In fact, many sources suggest earthworms are among the oldest living creatures on the planet.

What do earthworms eat in the soil?

Earthworms are perfect inhabitants in your garden.

The eat any fungi, bacteria, or algae in the soil, taking it and processing it for all the nutrients they need before expelling their worm casts, like an organic fertilizer, into the soil.

Having earthworms in the soil of your garden is incredibly beneficial for it, for that very reason, along with the fact that they do all that burrowing up and down, from side to side.

As they move around the soil, they help to break up the parts that are harder to penetrate and aerate it, making it easier to absorb water as it trickles down from the surface

Earthworms are very hardy and robust creatures, therefore if you have them in your garden, you don’t need to do very much, from a feeding point of view, to keep them alive and thriving.

Rather than being concerned about what the earthworms in your garden are going to eat, you should be more worried about what might like to eat them.

worms eat in the soil (fungi, bacteria, algae)


Worms in the wild will feed on most scraps, plants, fruits, grass, vegetables, manure and many other foods (even paper!) once they’ve decomposed enough for them to process and make their way through them.

Often times you won’t even know or see what matter or materials the earthworm is consuming as the nutrients are now in the ground or soil.

The humble worm just goes around eating whatever it can get its mouth on and helps with natural composting in the wild with their highly effective worm castings..or in simple terms, their poop!