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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

15 Earthworms Facts You’ll Never Forget

Earthworms facts like if its skin dries out, it cannot survive for long, are interesting

Often addressed as a night crawler, the common earthworm, whose scientific term is Lumbricus terrestris, is found majorly in moist soil structures particularly during rainy days in burrows. The worms are a common sight in the soil if you spend time gardening or are someone who likes to fish. They are an important constituent of our surface ecosystem. Earthworms consume anything that can be termed worm food. Be it the decaying carcass of an animal on the surface or roots or leaves in soil. Going unnoticed beneath our feet surface, the worm's role in keeping the fertility of the soil structure at optimum levels is underappreciated. Without the earthworm, the growth of plants and vegetation will be disturbed.

The earthworm is found abundantly in Western Asia and North America. A region that experiences abundant rainfall and has rich fertile soil makes a sustainable under-surface ground for earthworms to breed. The worms are called night crawlers because they are often seen crawling out of their burrows in the soil at night. They have moist and slimy skin that helps them absorb oxygen. Sunlight exposure for a long time is not a favorable environment for the worm to thrive. The earthworms are a source of food for a number of animals, toads, rats, centipede, and birds. It was Charles Darwin who first pointed out the important part the earthworm plays in soil formation.

By the end of this article, you will have knowledge on tropical velvet earthworms, fun facts about earthworms, cool facts about earthworms, earthworms, and organic matter, earthworm nutrients and burrow. You may also check out the fact files on flatworms and bumblebees from Kidadl.

Earthworms Interesting Facts

What type of animal are earthworms?

The earthworm is an invertebrate animal with long and stretchy bodies. The worm has no limbs. These worms crawl on the ground with the help of their slimy skin that produces mucus. It enables them to move with ease. They are also called angle worms or nightcrawlers. They are found almost everywhere except in dry regions or freezing places where there is a lack of damp soil.  

What class of animals do earthworms belong to?

The earthworm belongs to the class of Clitellata.

How many earthworms are there in the world?

Earthworms are found almost everywhere under surface soil. There are a number of species of earthworms that are found in different parts of the world. There are approximately 6000 species of earthworms worldwide.  

Where do earthworms live?

Earthworms live in damp and moist soil in forests, gardens, farms.

What is an earthworm's habitat?

Earthworms find their favorable habitat in deep burrows in moist soil. The worms consume the nutrients extracted from the organic matter in the soil. They burrow during the day. The worms are capable of digging in the soil up to 6 ft (1.8 m). They dig till they find the right moisture in the soil to survive.

Who do earthworms live with?

Earthworms are never found in large packs. They form small herds and make group decisions. They have different forms of communication. The herds of earthworms travel collectively in one direction together.

How long do earthworms live?

Earthworms, when born, are developed fully except for their sex organs. Their reproductive system develops in 60-90 days. The average lifespan of an earthworm can range from four to eight years. However, the garden variety earthworms live for about a year or two.  

How do they reproduce?

Earthworms are hermaphrodite creatures, i.e. they possess male as well as female sex organs. In spite of being hermaphroditic, the reproduction process in earthworms requires two worms to mate. They are not able to self-fertilize. During the reproduction process, both the worms form a line by laying down inverted from each other so the exchange of sperm can take place. The earthworms have two male openings for the secretion of sperm and two sperm receptacles. They have a pair of ovaries that produce eggs. Earthworms lay eggs inside cocoons after the mutual interchange of sperms. The cocoons are thrown off their heads after the process of mating.

The further process of fertilization occurs outside the body of earthworms inside the cocoon. The cocoon containing the egg needs to be nested in a moist and damp condition. The most favorable for the formation of cocoons is during summers, mostly after and during monsoon.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of earthworms by the IUCN Red List is Least Concern since they are not endangered. The reproduction process of earthworms is quite rapid and takes place at shorter intervals. They have the ability to double their population in a period of two to three months. They can lay eggs for at least three days after an interval of a month.

Earthworms Fun Facts

What do earthworms look like?

Earthworms are usually found in the colors of dark brown, reddish-brown, pink, white, and gray. If their blood is red, it is reflected through their skin. That is why they differ in physical appearances. They are cold-blooded creatures. The bodies of earthworms are always moist since their skin produces a lubricating fluid-like substance that helps them absorb oxygen. In this way, they breathe through their skin. The size of earthworms can vary depending upon the species. A fully developed earthworm can measure from 0.5-120 in (1.2-304.8 cm). They weigh about 0.5 oz ( 15 g). Their body weights could differ depending upon their longevity. Earthworms do not have arms, legs, or even eyes.

Earthworms do not have lungs or a developed respiratory system, so they breathe through their skin.

How cute are they?

The earthworm is not very appealing as compared to any other invertebrate. They have long, slimy, and stretchy bodies. They move around the soil by crawling with the help of their bodies.

How do they communicate?

Studies have shown that earthworms move around in small herds and travel to a particular destination together. They interact with each other by touching. Their interaction process is an important process in our ecosystem.

How big are earthworms?

Earthworms can be as long as 120-144 in (304.8-366 cm) depending upon the species, nearly 10 times longer than a bearded fireworm, 40 times longer than a silkworm, and 60 times longer than a Christmas tree worm.

How fast can earthworms move?

Earthworms can move at a rate of moderate speed to fast speed depending on the surface and obstacles. They cannot withstand a flow of rapid water. In the sense of predator or any other danger, they creep back quickly into their burrows in the soil.

How much do Earthworms weigh?

The weight of an earthworm can range from 1-1.5 lb (0.4-0.6 kg), depending on their body lengths.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no dedicated terms for male and female species of earthworms as they possess the physical features of both genders. Earthworms do not have separate genders like male and female.

What would you call a baby earthworm?

There are no specific terms for the young ones of earthworms.

What do they eat?

Earthworms feed on the organic matter found in damp and wet soil. It could be decaying leaf litter, roots, barks, or dead bodies of small animals.

Are they harmful?

Earthworms are never found to be harmful to humans in any way. They do not pose any threats to humans or other animals of any kind. The earthworm can result in soil erosion and leaching of nutrients from the soil structure, making them bad for forest productivity.  

Would they make a good pet?

The earthworm is not suitable for domestication. However, it does have uses in vermiculture. It is helpful in decomposing organic matter into food waste. It accelerates the process of composting. You can buy earthworms from bait shops or garden supply stores.

Did you know...

The body of the largest earthworm that was found in South Africa measured as long as 22 ft ( 6.7 m) in size.

Even though the earthworm does not possess eyes, the nightcrawler has the ability to sense light, particularly at the front end of the body.

Soil earthworms can eat up to their body weight every day.  

The cases of earthworm's eggs resemble tiny lemons.

Unique features of earthworms

The digestive system of earthworms involves a tube. A tube running straight from their mouths till the tip of their bodies constitutes a major part of their digestive system.

They create burrows to form habitats. The process loosens the soil resulting in improving soil quality. Their burrow allows the seepage of air, water, and other nutrients into the soil. The young ones of earthworms do not leave the burrows. They move freely only when they are capable of reproducing.

Earthworms avoid sunlight to maintain the moisture of their bodies. That is why they only crawl out during nighttime.  

Some species of earthworms have the ability to regrow certain segments of their bodies.

Costs and benefits of earthworms

Earthworms are more than mere baits or segments for fish in the water. Earthworms are useful in vermiculture. They play a significant role in enriching the fertility of the soil of a particular region. The soil that contains earthworms is highly suitable for the growth of plants. Earthworms consume surface soil that has decaying leaves and plants. Growing plants cannot use them directly. Earthworms ingest organic matter and excrete waste matter from their bodies. It is called castings. Castings could be nutritious for the plants. Humans use earthworm castings as natural fertilizers for plants' surfaces.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our giant African millipede facts and stink bug facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Earthworm coloring pages.

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