Earthworms – Help Aerate Red Clay?

Q: I have been told that Alabama Jumper earthworms are the best type of worms to help aerate red clay. Is this true?

A: Although we think of earthworms as always good for the garden, such is not always so. One could argue that earthworms change forest ecosystems for the worse, by eating the leaf litter that hardwood seedlings depend on for their first years of life.

There are native earthworms but many of the worms we think of as native (night crawler, red wiggler, etc) are not. The Alabama jumper is the name of a non-native earthworm, Amynthus gracilus. It is heavily promoted online as burrowing several feet into the soil. I have no information to the contrary but I do know that earthworms have to breathe and heavy clay soil is not a great place to find oxygen. You’re welcome to try them, but soil that has been amended with organic materials usually has plenty of earthworms in it already.