Caterpillar test: It’s not just earthworms that benefit from biodiversity

The number of earthworms present in the soil is often used a gauge of the “health” of a vineyard. But what about caterpillars? They are people, too!

It’s the so-called “earthworm test”: When it comes to testing and gauging the biodiversity of the soils where fine wine grapes are grown (or any crop for that matter), agronomists will often dig up a shovelful of dirt to see how many earthworms are present.

If there are none present, it is an indication that pesticides and herbicides and even fungicides may still be present. Animals struggle to survive in environments where chemicals are present and they naturally avoid them.

It can also be an indication of low or non-existent levels of nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen in the soil is key to the health of the soil and its ability to support micro-organisms, bacteria, etc. If there are no micro-organisms present in the soil, the animals won’t be attracted it: It is essentially an expression of the classic food chain. The bigger animals, in this case earthworms, depend on the smaller organisms for life.

The other day, when we saw this gorgeous caterpillar crawling along a branch, it occurred to us: Why do earthworms get all the love? After all, caterpillars are people, too!

Actually, that’s a death’s-head hawkmoth. Scary name, right? It’s actually an innocuous moth but thanks to its natural markings, it looks like it has a skull painted on it. Click this link to see what it looks like when it’s fully formed.

But it’s already really beautiful as a caterpillar. And it’s also a good sign for us and for you (that is, if you drink our wines): That biodiversity and the gauge of health of the soil mean that our wines are as wholesome as the vineyards where they are grown!

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