What is special about earthworms?

Earthworms react to heat, cold, touch, and vibrations. They have light-detecting cells. Ultraviolet rays in sunlight can kill them, so they move away from direct light.

Their streamlined shape helps them live underground and move through soil. Circular muscles surround each body segment. Earthworms are hermaphrodites with male and female organs in segments 9 to 15. Segment 15 of one worm exudes sperm into segments 9 and 10 of its mate. Some use external spermatophores for sperm transfer.

Earthworms have bilateral symmetry. If cut down the centerline, left and right sides would be identical. They need moist soil to survive but can be in many habitats.

While over 7,000 earthworm species exist, only 150 are widely distributed. As invertebrates, they lack a skeleton but are filled with fluid and internally segmented which provides structure. Tiny hairs help them move through soil. They eat organic plant matter, fungi and microorganisms.

Each earthworm has both male and female sex organs but cannot fertilize itself. Their tunneling aerates soil. They also drag plant debris down which allows air and water to enter soil, creating fertile soils over millions of years.

Larger earthworms are megadriles, smaller ones microdriles. Megadriles have a distinct clitellum and vascular system with capillaries. They are detritivores and coprophages, serving as food for some consumers.

In particular, “earthworm” refers to Lumbricidae and Lumbricus genus. Other names are “night crawler” and “angleworm.” Megadriles have male pores behind female pores and a multilayered clitellum.

Earthworms improve soil quality. Their castings are fertilizer. They are important detritivores and coprophages. Their activities create fertile soils.

Are earthworms good or bad?

Earthworms perform a significant role in improving the quality of plants we work hard to take care of. However, always remember to observe their behavior and species because not all earthworms are harmless. In extreme cases, large populations of earthworms can severely alter the soil structure.

Earthworms are essential for soil health. Earthworms help to aerate the soil, break down organic matter, and help to increase the amount of water and nutrients available to the plants. By their activity in the soil, earthworms offer benefits: increased nutrient availability, better drainage, and a more stable soil structure, all of which help improve farm productivity.

As important as they are alive for distributing nutrients and organisms and decomposing matter, worms are also very important in the food chain. They provide a crucial protein-rich source of food for other important species like birds, hedgehogs and frogs. Without earthworms in our soils, life could vanish pretty quickly. We would have less food, more pollution, and more flooding.

Earthworms are generally considered beneficial to the soil, although there are times when the presence of earthworms has a negative effect. After the glaciers retreated, the northern forests evolved. When earthworms invade the forests, they consume and break up the organic matter and spread it down into the soil.

Breeding earthworms is one of the best and fastest ways to collect castings in an enclosed area. You can use the waste materials as a replacement for chemical fertilizers, which are more costly.

There is no such thing as a “good” worm or a “bad” worm as all worms just are what they are: That is, they eat decaying organic matter and leave behind changed soil. In areas heavily infested by earthworms, soil erosion and leaching of nutrients may reduce the productivity of forests and ultimately degrade fish habitat. Without earthworms a lush forest floor. After earthworms invade, much of the beauty is gone.

How deep do earthworms live?

Earthworms live in the topsoil, going as deep as 6.5 feet. The worm’s first body segment has its mouth. Earthworms create tunnels as they eat through soil. They take in nutrients from decomposing leaves and roots.

Worms help plants by moving air and water through soil. They break down dead leaves and grass into nutrients plants use. Worms need moist soil to breathe through their skin.

In one acre of land, over a million earthworms can live. An earthworm will live two to eight years. Ideal temperature for worms is 55 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. A container with one to two dozen worms, filled with moist compost, will keep worms alive about three weeks if stored out of sunlight at 50 to 85 degrees.

Earthworms change soil pH and conductivity. Earthworm activity brings more dissolved nitrogen and minerals like zinc and copper into soil. Drain flies will lay eggs in drains or shower floors. About 46 earthworm species live with us. Best known are the common earthworm and the compost worm.

Earthworms are mostly active at night. After heavy rain, earthworm tunnels can be seen. Different earthworm species live at different soil depths from litter layer to five to six feet deep. Eggs can live up to two weeks outside a worm’s body. Some species may live four to eight years under ideal protected conditions with no predators. Loamy soil is best for earthworms since they need moisture but breathe through skin so can drown in too much water.

Do earthworms carry diseases?

Earthworms carry diseases. Yes, they host bacteria, viruses, fungi causing Legionellosis, E. coli, salmonella. These infect humans, found in soil, water. Worm activities harm us. Studies show they eat 90% leaf litter. Do all humans host worms? “Thanks to plumbing, industrialized world lost worms except occasional pinworms in children.” Nematodes are roundworms in soil, water. They cause diseases. Earthworms loosen, mix, aerate, drain soil. This fertilizes, prevents floods and erosion. But they also carry E. coli, salmonella – gastrointestinal infections. Worms are not new friends.

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