Earthworm predators in the UK
Many vertebrate and invertebrate animals consume earthworms. Their inclusion in a diet will depend on many reasons such as : availability, opportunism, season, life cycle of predator and food shortages of their preferred foods.
Here is a UK wildlife selection…..there are many more species!
Australian Flatworm (Photographed with brandling) Badgers
Birds: robins, blackbirds, song thrushes, starlings, woodcocks, curlews, gulls, crows
Carabid beetles e.g. black ground beetle Centipedes
Foxes Frogs Grass snake Hedgehogs Leeches ( e.g. Trocheta subvirudis)
Lizards Mice Minks Moles Newts
New Zealand Flatworm Pigs Pine Martins Red foxes
Shrews Slow worm Smooth snake Staphylind sp. (rove beetles)
Stoats Toads Wild boar Wood ants (unless they live in the wood ants nest!)
and…..SLUGS!!!! Carnivorous slugs!! Believe it or not, there are at least 3 specimens of slugs that feast on earthworms here in Britain! They belong to the Testacella family of slugs……
Spider eating worm!!!!
A most unusual search of the scientific literature found a species of spider, in Switzerland feeding on an earthworm, with a photograph of it trying to pull the worm on to its web!
See it for yourself and download…… Spiders feeding on earthworms
Some species of parasites and pathogens also attack, infest or infect earthworms…..
Bacteria, Fungi, Mites, Nematodes, Parasitic fly larvae, Platyhelminths worms, Protozoa and Rotifers.
Refs: Beside my own experiences and observations;
Edwards C.A. & Bohlen P.J., (1996), ” Biology and ecology of Earthworms”, Chapman & Hall, London
Laakso J. & Setala H., (1997), ” Nest mounds of red wood ants (Formica aquilonia) hot spots for litter dwelling earthworms”, Oecolgia 111, p 565-569