It's time for the 8th edition of the national Soil Animal Days. Between 23 September and 5 October, we're asking you to go on a safari in your own garden, do the survey, and spread the word to as many people as possible. Do you live in the city? Even better!
Little did we realise when the Soil Animal Days started in 2015 that just seven years later, there'd be a series of soil animal-inspired children's books (check out the illustration below by Djenné Fila!) and even a special event at Amsterdam's venerable Rijksmuseum.
In those seven years, the Soil Animal Days have gone from strength to strength. They've become part of the Onder het Maaiveld project, attracted more and more high-profile partners and ambassadors, and featured 'soil animal safaris' at unique locations such as the highest point of the Netherlands and the little island beside the government buildings in The Hague (links in Dutch).
Bigger each year
The long-term scientific results are still building up - helping our researchers understand the state of these all-important but often overlooked 'hidden treasures' in the Netherlands - but we're proud to say that the number of people and places taking part is bigger each year.
Last year, despite the Netherlands being in the final stages of the COVID pandemic, more than 1500 people searched for soil animals in more than 350 locations! This year, the theme of the Soil Animal Days is 'getting to know your downstairs neighbours' and the focus is on soil animals in urban environments.
Books and battles
There's going to be a soil animal safari with lots of schoolchildren in the gardens of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on 30 September, and a special children's book on soil animals will be launched during Children’s Books Week (5-16 October).
Another highlight will be our brand new 'Battle of the Cities': which city will be able to call itself the 'Soil Animal City of the Year'? Utrecht, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Maastricht are all taking part.
Most importantly though, we're hoping that even more people will fill in the survey this year and let us know what soil animals and how many they have found in their garden, on their balcony or in their local park or schoolyard. What is different this year? How have soil animals been coping with the extremely dry weather we had during most of the summer?
The 8th edition of the Soil Animal Days starts this Friday, 23 September, and ends on Wednesday 5 October. So if you're in the Netherlands, what are you waiting for? Start digging!