Every gardener knows how important it is to keep critters and pests away from their gardens. Pests are harmful insects that feed on vegetation and plants, making it difficult for the garden to grow. Gardeners want to do their best to deter these insects, which is why most use neem oil in their gardens or vegetable patch.
However, gardens don’t just have pests. They are also home to beneficial insects that help crop and plant growth. Thus, the question for many novice gardeners is, will neem oil also kill earthworms?
What are Earthworms?
Earthworms are quite harmless. They live in the soil and enjoy feeding on rotting vegetation and gaining nutrients from these sources. Earthworms are exceptionally easy to identify. They have bodies that are covered in setae, and the bodies are segmented. If you ever look at them, they move using a tube-in-tube-out mechanism.
Earthworms are beneficial organisms because they add to the overall soil health. They get their name from their habitat, where they receive nutrients. Earthworms also bring value to the soil they’re residing in by taking nutrients from deep inside the soil and bringing them to the surface. Regardless of how clueless you are regarding gardening, you will know what an earthworm looks like.
Are Earthworms Harmful to Plants?
There is no evidence to suggest that earthworms are harmful to plants. Earthworms are the type of organism that will only invest in the soil around the plant instead of the plant itself. You will only generally find earthworms on any part of the plant if there is soil on these plants. They have a very singular mind about what they like and stick to that environment.
Many gardeners question if earthworms can ever go rogue, and the answer is that they generally don’t. Instead, most people find that earthworms are beneficial in plant patches and gardens. Many gardeners add earthworms to their compost bins and gardens to increase soil fertility.
Why Use Neem Oil on Plants?
Gardeners want to ensure that their gardens and vegetable patches are properly taken care of. It means they would want to provide nutrients, water, and ideal plant conditions. The ideal conditions they need often mean keeping pests away from these plants. Thus, applying neem oil to plants is a simple way to keep pests away. Neem oil is a powerful pesticide, and it’s one of the most accessible ones too.
Neem oil is sold in high volumes in plant shops because it is an organic way for people to get rid of pests in their gardens. Neem oil contains a compound known as azadirachtin, which breaks down the internal structure of pests if they ingest it. However, beneficial insects or critters like earthworms will not be impacted by neem oil unless used inappropriately.
Will Neem Oil Kill Earthworms?
Now, we know for a fact that neem oil can have an impact on pests and insects alike. However, many gardeners want to know if it could impact earthworms or beneficial insects. Experts state that it’s not possible for azadirachtin to act on beneficial insects or earthworms because they must be ingested. However, we maintain that earthworms and beneficial insects will not ingest the plant, the neem oil, or the chemical compound azadirachtin.
In fact, several studies mention how neem oil has a positive impact on the growth of earthworms instead. These studies were conducted by scientists all over the world that mention a noticeable growth in the earthworm population in places where gardeners applied neem oil properly.
The only explanation we may think of is that gardens, where caretakers apply neem oil, have a higher proportion of dead pests, which attract earthworms, due to which they are higher in number. They also have a greater amount of nutrition here which is why there may be an increase in their size and mass.
However, through several studies, we also learned that neem oil could harm earthworms if the concentration is too much. It means that if you maintain a higher concentration of neem oil, earthworms may lose some of their body mass.
However, none of these results are conclusive, and thus, you should not rely on neem oil too heavily,
What are the Advantages of Neem Oil?
Neem oil has many advantages, and there are reasons that people use it so frequently in gardens.
It is not Toxic
Neem oil isn’t toxic or harmful to plants and animals that are persistent in soils. It would be best if you didn’t spray it directly on the beneficial insects or earthworms. As long as you are careful, you don’t have to worry about the impact on humans, animals, or even plants.
It is Organic
Neem oil is all-natural, so there aren’t any harsh chemicals that companies must mix to get it. Manufacturers need only extract it from a neem tree.
It is Biodegradable
Neem oil doesn’t last in the environment for long, so you don’t have to worry about its environmental impact.
Benefits of Earthworms in your Garden
Better Nutrient Availability
We mentioned this before, but earthworms dig into the earth and will bring more nutrients to the surface. Even their dropping has nutrients that add to the soil’s nutritional value.
Earthworms create an entire network of channels in the soil. They keep on moving, so while bringing around all types of nutrients to the surface, they will also ensure drainage through these channels. It’s easier for water to reach the roots of a plant because of the many channels left behind by the earthworms.
Robust Soil Structure
Earthworms ensure that any harmful critters in the soil are ingested. Earthworms will also snack on microorganisms that would otherwise harm the soil structure. Thus, they create a stable soil structure.
Neem oil is quite a significant oil for you to have in your garden shed. However, it will not kill earthworms since they are soft-bodied animals that don’t ingest the leaf material. Neem oil is effective as an insecticide because it’s selective in the insects it kills. A major way to protect your plants is by spraying them with neem oil.