Worms on the Green
Animal invaders are often unaware of their effect on new ecologies, traveling alongside their human counterparts as resources for free labor. The most commonly known earthworms in North America, eisenia fetida and lumbricus terrestris, also known as red wigglers and nightcrawlers respectively, arrived with the first wave of European settlers burrowed inside potted plants, the cracks of wagon wheels, and sacks of spoiled crops. These annelids, who’s labor is routinely utilized in gardens, agricultural fields, and compost piles, now play a vital role in the complex systems of soil health and water treatment as humans confront the effects of micro- and nanoplastics and the resulting toxicants that cycle through soil, water, and animal bodies. As a method of understanding the complex relationships between human and annelids and the resulting ideologies regarding nature and “greening,” I am conducting a research-based multimedia project to discover the connections between animal labor, eco-colonialism and the rapid invasion of nanoplastics into our water, soil, and bodies. This multimedia project also questions the inherent interdependency humans have on these particular annelids, a domesticated invasive species, as a natural resource in colonization while addressing postcolonial theory through the lifeworld of the earthworm.