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French worms thrive in Irish soil

A THRIVING colony of Mediterranean French earthworms has been found on a farm in Dublin.

Global warming could explain how the worms swapped their home in sunny south-west France for the Emerald Isle, scientists believe.

Rising soil temperatures may be extending the habitat range of the Gallic worm, Prosellodrilus amplisetosus.

"Soil decomposer species including earthworms are frequently introduced into non-native soils by human activities like the transportation of nursery plants or live fish bait," said Dr Olaf Schmidt, from University College Dublin.

"There have been a few recordings of the earthworm P. amplisetosus outside of its native range in the Aquitaine region of south-western France, but now we have discovered a successfully thriving population in Ireland, about 1,000kms north of its native habitat."

A study of the worms led by Dr Schmidt appears in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. Urban farms have higher temperatures than rural farms, which may have helped the worms become established in their new home, say the researchers.

hnews@herald.ie