Worms…Did You Know?

By  | March 11, 2018 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

Anyone prone to working the soil knows that upturning the earth exposes these shiny, wigging, pinkish-brownish tubular life forms, sending them thrashing in hasty retreat into the comforting, moist darkness of the soil.

Earthworms….Did You know?

One of the most familiar of them, the sort you may see in your garden, is commonly known as the night crawler (it typically surfaces after dark), the angleworm (its makes popular bait for fishing) or the rain worm (it leaves waterlogged soil after storms).

Did you know…..Of the more than 180 earthworm species found in the U.S. and Canada, 60 are invasive species, brought over from the Old World, including the night crawler.

Lacking lungs or other specialized respiratory organs, earthworms breathe through their skin.  The skin exudes a lubricating fluid that makes moving through underground burrows easier and helps keep skin moist.

Each earthworm is both male and female, producing both eggs and sperm.   They mate on the surface of the earth, pressing their bodies together and exchanging sperm before separating. Later, the clitellum (a collar-like organ that goes around the worm’s body the way a cigar band does a cigar) produces a ring around the worm. As the worm crawls out of the ring, it fills the ring with eggs and sperm. The ring drops off, seals shut at the ends and becomes a cocoon for the developing eggs.

Baby worms emerge from the eggs tiny but fully formed. They grow sex organs within the first two or three months of life and reach full size in about a year. They may live up to eight years, though one to two is more likely.

Full size for an earthworm varies among species, ranging from less than half an inch long to nearly 10 feet. The latter monsters don’t occur in U.S. backyards—you’ll have to go to the Tropics to see one of them. The homegrown versions top out at around 14 inches.

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