National Sampling Protocol 1

Flip and Strip

Equipment you will need

  • clothes and shoes that can get dirty
  • a partner(s)
  • soil thermometer* (optional)
  • 2 well rinsed plastic containers (yogurt, margarine or cottage cheese containers work best)
  • wormWatch data forms
  • a sampling frame (25 x 50 cm) or 175cm of string, 4 large nails/stakes and metre stick or 25 x 50cm piece of cardboard
  • pen/pencil
  • the taxonomic key to adult earthworms (link to downloadable Taxonomic Key)
  • clipboard
  • a camera (optional)

*Note: do not use glass thermometers because they will break when you push them into soil.

Flip and Strip Protocol

  1. Layout your sampling grid on the ground. This can be done in two ways, using stakes and string or cardboard.
    • Layout the stakes in to a rectangle 25cm by 50cm, using the metre stick for exact measurements. Wrap the string around the stakes to show the sample frame or
    • Take a flat piece of cardboard and cut out a rectangle in the centre that measures 25cm by 50cm. Lay on the area for sampling

    Keep in mind that rocks, pieces of wood, logs and old cow pats often have earthworms living under them in the cool moist soil. Rocks beside streams and lakes are also good places to look for earthworms. If you are looking under rotting wood, strip back the bark in moist areas and check for bark worms. Bark worms are usually small and very red.

    Flip and Strip


  2. Gently flip the rocks and strip the pieces of wood that are within your sampling frame. Even if you donít find any earthworms, be sure to carefully replace the rocks, wood and logs that you moved. 
  3. Sort the worms found into colour, and appearance (refer to the key supplied with this kit). Count the numbers of adults (clitellum), juveniles and cocoons in each group and record the numbers on the data sheet. Put the juveniles, cocoons and aestivating earthworms back in the soil. Be sure to keep your adults to identify by using the key provided on the web site. 
  4. If you have a camera take a picture of yourselves and your sites and include them when you submit your observation online. These pictures help us become familiar with the area you sampled in. 
  5. After you have identified your adults. Return all the other earthworms to the soil or place you found them and put all the rocks and litter back the way you found it. 
  6. Record the species, number of adults, number of juveniles (if any) and number of cocoons (if any) on your Observation Form or use your mobile phone to submit online through this website. If you do not find any earthworms, that ís important information too! 
  7. At the site, at home or back at school, submit your observations online with pictures. In this way, we can be sure to include your data in our study.