Dig in with us on Soil Animal Day!


Dig in with us on Soil Animal Day!

Press release

How much do you really know about your nearest neighbours? And no, we don't mean the ones living in the house beside you. How much do you know about millipedes, woodlice, springtails and all those other creatures that you share your patch of earth with? Our guess...? Not a lot!

Unknown makes unloved. Yet without soil animals such as these, there would be no clean drinking water, sufficient food or even material to make clothes. Just think: you'll find more living organisms in a single, small handful of soil than there are people on the entire planet!

Year of Soils

What better moment to get properly introduced to your neighbours in the soil than worldwide Animal Day, 4 October, which - as this is the United Nations' International Year of Soils - we'd like just this once to rebaptise 'Soil Animal Day'!

All you have to do is go out into your own garden and take a good, long look. But if you're based in the Netherlands, we invite you to go one better: go to www.bodemdierendag.nl on 4 October and fill in the online form to help us learn more about the current state of the soil in Dutch cities and towns.

More details

You can download our special soil animal chart here (.pdf), to help you make sense of what you see. It features the ten groups of soil dwellers people are most familiar with - from spiders and ants to millipedes and moles.

Looking for something a bit more challenging? If you know your Lumbricus festivus from your Lumbricus terrestris (hint: they're both earthworms), the chart and the online form will also let you identify all the exact species.

You have until noon on Monday 5 October to submit your findings from any Dutch garden, park, roof or balcony. Results will be announced one week later. And if you upload a photograph of your garden, you may even win a duvet cover featuring your favourite soil animal!

(Photographs: Theodoor Heijerman, please use for Soil Animal Day only and with proper attribution)


Soil Animal Day is organised by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and the Centre for Soil Ecology (CSE). Experts from the NIOO, Wageningen UR and Amsterdam's VU University helped produce the soil animal chart. And VARA radio's Vroege Vogels programme will air a special Soil Animal Day feature on 4 October.