I think maybe the opposite of a predator is… an earthworm. Hence the avatar.

Humble, unassuming, patient, the earthworm breaks down various forms of “waste” in the soil — dead leaves, fungi, moss, all that tasty stuff — and in so doing, nourishes and aerates the soil. A garden without earthworms is an impoverished place. A garden where every spadeful comes up with pink wrigglers is a fortunate place. The earthworm consumes, yet leaves the soil richer for its activities, not poorer. The earthworm lives, and by living assists others to live — plants, critters that eat plants.

An earthworm is not nearly so romantic thing to imagine oneself as a large charismatic predator — not nearly so beautiful as the tiger, the lion, even the modest-sized housecat. But a living forest or prairie needs a whole lot more earthworms than it does tigers or wolves. As with pollinators, the humble creatures who render soil fertile are far more necessary to the rest of life on Earth than the charismatic macrofauna. If all the humans on Earth died overnight, some of our domesticated species would suffer greatly for a shortish time (chickens, pigs, dogs, cattle, horses…) but the planetary ecosystem would barely wobble. If all the earthworms, or all the bees or wasps on Earth died overnight, entire ecosystems would collapse.

Who is really more important, then? Us with all our delusions of grandeur, or the humble earthworm?

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store