Micro-Season: “The Earthworms Rise” (2023)

We have entered the micro-season of “The Earthworms Rise.” This is the first micro-season of the mini-season of First Summer. All the micro-seasons within First Summer are:

  • The First Frog Calls (May 05 – May 09)
  • The Earthworms Rise (May 10 – May 14)
  • Bamboo Shoots Appear (May 15 – May 20)

The micro-seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. While they are specific to Japan, they can be helpful to people all over the world. No matter where you live, you can use these seasons as a starting point for exploring the natural world.

To celebrate this season we will learn about earthworms and read seasonal haiku from Basho, Buson, Issa, and Reichhold. 

About Earthworms:

Earthworms are land-based invertebrates that are part of the phylum Annelida. Animals in this phylum are also known as segmented worms.  There are about 22,000 species in the phylum Annelida including earthworms, ragworms, and leeches.(1)  

The “Common Earthworm” (Lumbricus terrestris) is native to Western Europe but also found throughout North America and Western Asia. Lumbricus terrestris is considered an invasive species in parts of northern North America. 

Three Classification of Earthworms

Lumbricus terrestris is considered an anecic earthworm. The term “anecic” is Greek for “up from the earth” or “out of the earth”.  This means that the earthworm builds deep vertical burrows and then rises to the surface to feed.  This is different from the endogeic worms that burrow through the soil looking for food and epigeic earthworms that feed and live on the earth’s surface.  

Colorado State’s Master Gardener Program provides us with the lists below describing the different traits of each type of earthworm

Anecic (Greek for “up from the earth” or “out of the earth”)

  • • Capable of burrowing to depths of 6’
  • • Build permanent burrows into the deep mineral layers of the soil
  • • Drag organic matter from the soil surface into their burrows for food
  • •  The Lumbricus terrestris is included in this category

Endogeic (Greek for “within the earth”)

  • • Build extensive non-permanent burrows in the upper mineral layer of
  • soil
  • • Feed on the organic matter in the soil
  • • Live exclusively in soil and usually are not noticed, except after a
  • heavy rain when they come to the surface
  •  The Allolobophora chlorotica, also called Green Earthworm, is in this category.

Epigeic (Greek for “upon the earth”)

  • • Live on the soil surface
  • • Form no permanent burrows
  • • Feed on decaying organic matter
  • • The Eisenia fetida or red worm, is in this category

This illustration by Rich Kollath found on the Earthworm Society of Great Britain website provides a great visual representation of these three classifications of earthworms.

Some other facts about Common Earthworms by California State University.

  • The common life space for an earthworm is 6 years.
  • The worm can grow up to 14 inches in size.
  • Earthworm’s bodies are made up of segments, called annuli, which is how they move and burrow.
  • Capable of digging down as far as 6.5 feet.
  • Worms are hermaphroditic but not self-fertilizing.
  • Earthworms breathe through their skin, due to their lack of lungs

Seasonal Haiku

The World Kigo Database groups “earthworms” and “mole crickets” in the same listing. Part of the reason for this is because mimizu naku, which is literally translated to earthworms singing, “refers to the sounds coming from insects on the earth (as opposed to the birds in the sky or the many four-legged animals).”(5)  However, Mimizu (earthworm) is a summer kigo and Mimizu naku is an autumn kigo.

When looking at the spring animal category in The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words as selected by Kenkichi Yamamoto, we notice that earthworms are not listed.  However, “silkworms” are late spring kigo.  In  Jane Reichhold’s A Dictionary of Haiku, we also notice that earthworms aren’t listed. Instead, we find “slugs”, “caterpillars”, and “snails” as spring kigo.

With all this in mind, let’s read some haiku.


if they were people
they'd be Buddhas!
sea slugs
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

Although this season is primarily talking about land animals, this haiku by Issa was too good to skip. See the Sea Slug Forum for more information about the relationship between sea slugs and land slugs.

the caterpillar
transformed flies away...
morning moon
(translated by David G. Lanoue)


dirtying their sleeves
fishing for mud snails
no time for leisure
(translated by Jane Reichhold)


struck by a 
raindrop, snail
close up
(translated by Janine Beichman)

Jane Reichhold

sleeping late
on the doorstep
two slugs
my eye
the spot on the larva's back
where wings emerge

Haiku Invitation

This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that references any type of invertebrate.

Share your haiku in the comments below, or post on your own page and link back to this post. I can’t wait to read what you write!  


  1. “Earthworm”; Wikipedia
  2. “Lumbricidae”; Wikipedia
  3. “Earthworms” Colorado State’s Master Gardener Program
  4. “Earthworms” California State University
  5. “Earthworm (mimizu) and mole cricket”; World Kigo Database

 Issa’s haiku was retrieved from David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com.  Jane Reichhold’s Haiku was retrieved from A Dictionary of Haiku. Buson’s haiku was retrieved from The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology, edited by Faubion Bowers.  Basho’s haiku was retrieved from Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations 


55 thoughts on “Micro-Season: “The Earthworms Rise” (2023)

Add yours

  1. Hello, Mark and all. Looks like I’m the early bird this morning catching our haiku theme. Here’s my response. I look forward to reading everyone’s contributions. 🙂

  2. Wonderful to be reminded here, Mark, of the beauty of earthworms and their importance on our planet. Lovely and sweet tributes to this often-forgotten creature.

    1. Hi Jet, Thank you and yes I so agree that we often forget about the little and the slimy creatures. They all play an important part in our world! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a good weekend.

  3. Great post, Mark. Love the invertebrates; they are so diverse. Thanks for explaining segmented worms so well.

    the randomness
    of my thoughts
    –slug trail
    ~Nancy Brady
    published in Failed Haiku #88, 2023

    rainy hike…
    earthworms come
    to ground
    ~Nancy Brady, 2018

    ear worm…
    uptown funk
    in my p-p-poker face
    ~Nancy Brady, 2018


    1. Hi Nan, “the randomness” is a wonderful haiku! I almost think that one needs to be a piece of art on my wall! And “ear worm” is delightful!

  4. Hi Mark, the sun has been out for most of the day with the temperature about 20c! I think our worms were far underground in the cool and damp! Great post as usual. 🙋‍♂️

    1. Hi Ashley, Thanks for stopping by! I was doing a little yard work the other day and turned up a few worms just below the surface. The ground is getting warmer over here. Still too cold to plant anything but Kale and radishes. Or at least that is what my gardener friend told me.

  5. 12 inchworms
    in a footprint
    baited breaths

    I wrote this a few months ago because I was having fun with various ideas. This seems the perfect moment to share it.

      1. That is exactly who I play to submit it to! Thanks for the encouragement.

      1. Thanks so much, Mary Jo. I enjoyed the double meaning with this spelling of baited.

      1. Thank you so much! I love being called clever–it’s an addiction. Hehe.

  6. Mark,

    It is getting harder to stay inside when the weather has been nice.

    Here is a pair Title is post link (and a bonus in the next spot because there might be an issue if there are two links in the same comment);

    …earthworms rise…

    …earthworms rise…

    a life line that moves
    through the earth

    Under the green layers, making a maze in the garden wiggly friends, worms.
    old language
    odd cuneiform
    after rain

    Writing across drives, walkways; letters plucked from earth’s page by hungry birds.

    © JP/dh

    1. Hi Jules, these are great! I like how you pulled in the benefits of earthworms (aeration) and also the worms place in the food chain. Fantastic work for this week and so creative! Thanks for sharing.

      1. I like to play with short forms. There is a form called an Elfje… My friend and I turned this ‘How to Teach Children to Write Short Verse’ into adult versions. Basically an Elfje is five lines of only 11 words!

    1. Thanks for sharing your work this week! I like that your haiku brings in spring rain, worms and birds! It’s a spring bonanza!

  7. I absolutely love your newsletters and look forward to reading them. The only problem is that I find the haiku from Basho, Issa, etc. impossible to read, due to the color scheme and bad eyesight. I hope you will consider making a change. Thank you!
    Sally Quon

    1. Hi Sally, thanks for letting me know the challenge in reading. Are you reading the post in the WordPress reader or on a web browser? In a web browser the text is black on a white background. In the WordPress reader, the program removes a lot of the formatting and I think can be challenging sometimes. Can you let me know how you are reading the pages. Thanks for letting me know.

      1. If she’s like me, she is reading it on her phone. This has been happening for the last month or so. I think Word Press has done something without telling any of the writers/creators as another blog I follow has the same problem (that editor didn’t believe me at first). Now it seems clicking on the headline helps resolve the issue. Hope this helps.

      2. Hi Eavonka, Thanks for this information. It’s a bummer that this is happening and I will do some digging around and see if there is a patch or something I can do on my end to help resolve this issue. Thanks again for the added information.

    2. This has also been a problem with another blog I follow. It was suggested that you click the heading, and the poems will display as they are supposed to. I hope this helps.

  8. Thanks for the reminder Mark, i have to get some earth worms for the garden!
    We did find a snake the closet yesterday. Luckily the workers put him outside.

    slithering gardeners
    pretty but belongs outside
    shoo and go eat mice

    Love all of the info and the haikus! ❣️

    1. Hi Cindy, “Snakes in the closet” has the potential to be its own season!
      I can say that I have never had that happen to me her in the Northeast. Thanks for sharing your haiku and adding to the conversation.

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