What has no arms, and no legs, it doesn’t have eyes to see, or ears to hear? It’s a worm you silly!
Earthworms though look a little odd and slimy, are the most amazing creatures. They work just as hard as or even harder than farmers do on their lands. While the farmers are sleeping, or are on a break, or vacation, the worms are still working. In fact, there are not even eager to see the daylight. They would rather be left tucked away under the precious soil.
You may not realize it but earthworms are an important part of our very existence. They clean the soil we grow and produce our food from. Earthworms are our own natural little recycling machines. They serve as food for other earth creatures as well, like toads, rats, and birds. These creatures are not indigenous to one place. They live all over the world in soft moist soil that virtually exists on every corner of the earth, hence, the name “Earthworm”.
First, let me give you the basic description of a worm and some of its features, so the day you come across one you’ll know just what you’re looking at:
An earthworm can measure anywhere between 1 inch and 10 feet long. Imagine the size of a basketball hoop. Shaq may have some competition.
But a worm’s pale, pinkish, soft, slimy, and boneless body will not be able to make the shot.
Did you know that the largest earthworm ever recorded was found in South Africa, measuring in at 22 feet? Yes, it’s true.
There are two parts of the earthworm’s body. Its body is made up of skin on the outside and bands of muscle throughout its body.
Earthworms must digest their food through a type of gizzard, due to having no teeth.
These worms do not have eyes. But still seem to be sensitive to sunlight. Hum? And breathe through their skin since they do not have lungs. That is pretty amazing to me.
And this is not one but up to nine times amazing because a worm has several hearts. I’m feeling a lot of love right now. An earthworm can have between 5 and 9 hearts. I must agree that it takes a lot of love to clean after someone else’s mess, which is what worms do for us and nature.
Worms have so much love that they don’t even need the opposite sex. They have both of those too. This just can’t get even more amazing, can it? Hermaphrodite is the word used to describe a creature that carries both sex organs. Earthworms are hermaphrodites. But I am not really feeling that kind of love. I’ll leave that to the worms. I guess it is because they are so busy cleaning soil.
I guess you’re wondering how those little critters get around. Well, the muscle that is their body is what pulls them everywhere. Having no legs doesn’t stop them from getting where they want to go. Tiny bristles called setae run all over the soft slimy little body. The setae give the worm traction to burrow through soil.
This burrowing that the worms do serves more than one important purpose. I don’t know if the worms know but as they are cleaning waste, leaving behind castings, which is clean nutrient filled soil, the small burrows they create allow the soil aeration to be possible so the ground can store water after rainfalls. This creates fresh soil for new crops.
We won’t usually see earthworms as they prefer to stay just below the surface. But if it gets too hot or cold they will dig down deeper into the earth to find a more suitable temperature. They find oxygen in air pockets under the ground. If rain occurs and these pockets fill with water, this is when you will find worms coming to our ground level to breathe. So don’t step on the little critters they are just trying to catch their breath.
Here’s an interesting twist on the subject. Now, I am sure you’ve heard of worms being used for fish bait, right? But did you know in some parts of the world people actually eat these worms? I kid you not!
I’m sure the first place you can imagine is China, and you’re right. They eat worms. It is also common among the Australian Aborigines and the Maoris in New Zealand.
Earthworms are 82 percent pure protein baby! I wonder if the body builders would be interested.
It has actually been researched that an earthworm diet can reduce cholesterol due to worms being full of Omega 3 essential oil. I don’t believe anyone is following this suggestion though. How about a stir fry worm entry?
I guess that is why we don’t see overweight birds.
Hold up! Check it out. We better not take to eating on too many earthworms. If we did it would make a dramatic effect on the waste they eat to keep our soil clean. Earthworms can process through 10 tons of natural debris and turn over 40 tons of soil in just one year. You wouldn’t want to see that amount of debris backup on our surface. It wouldn’t be pretty.
In only one acre of land over a million earthworms can reside.
As you may be coming to understand earthworms are vital to our living. Truly amazing creatures and we never hear a peep.
Have you ever heard of the soil food web? Well, the food web is a little interconnected community of organisms that work together to support plant life. Billions of little organisms make up this soil food web.
Besides earthworms, arthropods, nematodes, protozoa, fungi and bacteria work for the soil food web. These organisms contribute to the refurbishing of soil into healthy soil for all living things.
Earthworms keep the balance by being able to feed on all these organisms. And then the birds eat the worms, you know how it goes.
And nothing gets in a worms way. An earthworm is so strong that it can move stones 60 times their own weight! Amazing.
Earthworms are really hard workers. They work hard at keeping our soil clean by pulling down organic material and recycling it into fresh nutrient filled soil. I think they deserve a Nobel Peace Prize or something. They really deserve some recognition.
Hey, worms are highly respected in some places. Back in the day when there was a Tibet, the monks believed that worms were the reincarnation of their mothers. They would not allow any harm to come to them.
Aristotle considered earthworms to be the “intestines of the soul”. I am imagining because of the miraculous job they do cleaning the earth. It is symbolic to our own intestine’s that cleanses our body. Think about that one. Boy I could get lost in making the connection with that thought. Everything if this life we can learn from. Not just the fun facts but how they are symbolic and full of meaning to understanding ourselves.
It was also known that Charles Darwin investigated worms and spent 39 years doing so. He also recognized the truly amazing function of the earthworm and its role in the history of the world. He also felt they didn’t get the recognition they deserved.
Earthworms were considered sacred to one “Cleopatra“. She didn’t allow farmers in Egypt to remove the soil from their lands. She knew the value of the earthworm.
Depending on the extent of damage and the history of the earthworm, some earthworms can grow back severed segments of their body. There are very few that can pull that off, again can I say amazing.
In one day an earthworm consumes one third of its own body weight.
Four basic types of earthworms are: garden worms, night crawlers, manure worms, and red worms.
Let’s get down to some scientific facts:
Earthworms are a part of the Kingdom of Animalia.
Their phylum is Annelida.
Their class is Oligochaeta.
Their order is Haplotaxida.
Their suborder is Lumbricina.
So, how can we be more aware of these amazing creatures? Start by not stepping on them if you see one on the surface. And if you’re looking for a more serious relationship, you can incorporate worms into you life by using them for composting in your yards or gardens. And if you like you can actually have a worm farm and raise them for the worm market. Worms are in demand. They are used as bait, life food, breeding stock, and purchased for building soil. Their castings are packaged and sold as fresh fertilizer for $12-$25 dollars a pound. Sounds like good business.
One earthworm can produce 150 to over 200 baby worms in one year. So if you have 200 worms, in one year you’ll have at the least 40,000 worms. Some worm farmers sell a thousand worms at a price of $20 to $30 dollars. That is great production and you don’t even have to do the work. It is known that there are not enough breeders to meet the demand for worms. With people looking to go green and run their homes from natural and organic means, worms are an important part of that system. Who needs are those fancy appliances? Okay, I know we need some but worms are life natural garbage disposals.
I know a trick if you don’t have land for worms. You can create an easy compost bucket that fits right under your sink. Think of it as your own little garbage disposal. Take a medium size storage bucket. Drill some holes on all sides. This will be air holes for the worms. Shed pieces of newspaper and place at the bottom of the bucket, it should fill about half way and do not use newspaper with color ink on it. Add some top soil, about 2 or 3 cups, to help the worms get started. Gently place in about 200 worms. You can purchase worms at a specialty shop or bait shop. Then cover and place in a dark cool place. It can be a small container that fits under your kitchen sink, but try to create a base at the bottom of the bucket to allow air to reach from the bottom. Daily you can add your food scraps to the bucket. Do not add meats or bones. Only add vegetables, pasta, rice, fruits, coffee grounds, egg shells, all the natural items that you know can be eaten by worms. It is a clean composting method. It does not produce smell. Then when you notice the bucket becoming dirt and full you can separate the dirt from the worms by sifting and use it for potted plants for your home. You can share it with friends or family. I know my Grammy would appreciate a project like this. Kids will enjoy this too. It’s a project that can help kids understand nature and how it works. It can teach them about recycling and caring for their earth. They can raise worms for income also which will give them independence. Worms are cool, and not just because they live in the cool soil. They should be considered like a common household pet. They can certainly contribute.