Earthworms might not be for everyone. Their slimy, wet, wiggly, and just overall alien to look at. But the truth is earthworms serve an important role in our environment which includes special functions that keep us humans alive and well too. After you read the facts laid out in this article, Do yourself a favor and think about what the world would be like if we did not have our slimy little creepy crawly friends here to help us out.
So on with the show.
Facts on Earthworms
- Earthworms come in a variety of colors and sizes, but the most common color is a reddish/pinkish brown. Their bodies look to be composed of multiple segments but in fact are 1 single piece (please don’t stretch out a worm to find out, just take my word for it). Their bodies produce a special type of slime that coats their entire body. It’s very important and serves many purposes, And we’ll get into some of them in this article lower down.
- Earthworms cannot see in the typical sense, They can not hear either. But that doesn’t mean they have no senses at all. One end of their body will be more sensitive to light photons and act’s like the worm’s “eye” or sensor. This allows them to detect when they are in the dark, or in the light, and act accordingly.
- Earthworms don’t have lungs but they still need to breathe. In order to do this, they developed a mechanism to pull dissolved oxygen out of the soil around them through their skin. This only works if the skin remains moist, and that’s why worms always feel slimy. That mucus allows them to breathe!
- There is no shortage when it comes to the types of earthworms you can encounter. After all, there are over 6000 known species, and who knows how many haven’t been discovered yet.
- Earthworms can drown just as easily as they can dry up. If soil is too wet, they will die, and if the soil is too dry, they can die as well. They can also only last about an hour in the daylight before they start to dry out too much and perish.
- That mucus has a secondary function aside from assisting in their ability to breathe. The earthworm’s mucus will also make it easier for them to get around their environment and allows effortless movement in their dugout holes.
- Each earthworm species has its own preferred food source, But in general, those will be decaying plant matter, spoiled food refuse, and dung. They also eat fungus. If you would like to learn more about the earthworm’s dietary requirements check out this article here.
- The largest species of earthworm is the Giant Gippsland earthworm. It has an enormous average length of 3.3 feet (1 meter) and a beefy 2cm thick. If you haven’t guessed yet, This worm lives in the “land of monster and death” Aka Australia. You could get several pounds of meat out of these worms if you were into that sort of thing.
9. There are exceptions to the size rules though, and the longest recorded earthworm was a whopping 22 footer.
10. When you see large amounts of earthworms come up to the surface when the surface is covered in water, or it’s raining, these are typically considered a rainworm species.
11. The worms you see at night? Night crawlers. Sometimes you will find overlap between the 2.
12. Worms typically dig about 6 feet underground, although depending on the composition and surrounding area, they could be deeper or shallower.
13. They have no gender, they simply exist as both male and female at the same time.
14. Just because they are hermaphrodites doesn’t mean they are able to reproduce with themselves, though. And you will always see them mating with other worms.
15. Lifespan varies between size, species etc, it can be as low as 1 year and as high as 8+ years.
16. Tropical earthworms can become massive, 15 feet plus for some species.
17. Earthworms have no bones, Who needs em’ right?
18. Worms have no legs, Instead they have many little hairs all over their body they use as pseudo legs to get around. This also allows an extra sense of touch which earthworms would lack otherwise.
19. Earthworms are great for the environment. They help unpack and aerate the soil around plants, which in turn helps them grow and survive. They also excrete nutrients near plant roots which feed plants what they need.
20. They are prefect for breaking down food wastes and other organic matter. Not only does that create a renewable source of fertilizer, but worms also make a byproduct from their poop, also known as casings, which acts as a super powerful fertilizer. It’s farmed throughout the world for its rich use is agriculture and gardening.
21. The worms help prevent erosion damage that would normally occur, especially in wet areas.
22. Worms have no forward or backwards end, They can move in both directions flawlessly.
23. Baby earthworms look like adult earthworms only tiny. Their egg cocoons are tiny oval shaped specs, usualy white or a bit yellow in color.
24. In 1 acre of land you can expect to find over 1 million earthworms of various sizes shapes colors and species.
25. Earthworms are 90% water. In comparison, us humans are only 75%.
26. Earthworms don’t stop at just having 1 heart, In fact, the longer they are, the more hearts they typically have.
27. You thought I was joking about the eating worms thing above, but in fact, worms are an amazing source of proteins for many places in the world. Big earthworms can yield several pounds of edible fleshy proteins.
28. Earthworms tend to taste like dirt. In an earthly sense. However this can be altered based on the diet the worm feeds on. A farmed wormed may taste like anything the farmer wishes it to taste like (within reason).
29. Most of the time if you cut an earthworm in half, it’s going to die. It has a small chance an end will grow back, but this is just a chance, and otherwise, you are putting the earthworm at a huge disadvantage and will likely die anyway. Please don’t try this.
30. Worms have red blood like humans, so if you do 29 you will have blood on your hands, metaphorically and literally.
31. Earthworm populations double every 90 days.
32. And earthworm is capable of laying around 70-80 eggs a year.
There are many more amazing facts about earthworms you can learn on this website. Check out our other resources: