Earthworms are everywhere, even if you can’t see them. They're so common, in fact, that it's all too easy to forget the amazing things earthworms do. They may be gross, but earthworms are harmless to people and can even be helpful. Earthworms' uses go far beyond merely serving as bait on a hook.
Why are earthworms important? Worms are a crucial part of the food chain, and can help or harm environments where they're introduced. They're decomposers who can be used in fertilizer, soil-processors who can help farmers, and amazing creatures that can regenerate their bodies. These interesting earthworm facts might make you think differently about these squiggly subterranean neighbors.
Earthworms don't have lungs; instead, they breathe through their skin. Their bodies are permeable, meaning fluids and air can be absorbed directly into the worms from the environment. Earthworms need to stay moist for this process to work, which is why they avoid sunlight and arid climates.
Earthworms feel are slimy to the touch, but they are actually covered in tiny, hair-like bristles called setae. Each one of the body segments, called annuli, use their setae to help the worm move through the dirt. Without these bristles, earthworms would find it much more difficult to burrow underground.
Earthworms can be a farmer's best friend. Their behavior can naturally improve the quality of crops. The underground tunnels they dig allow water to seep into the ground more easily. Thus, plants are able to slurp up more water and grow even bigger. These tunnels also help aerate the soil, bringing more live-giving oxygen to roots.
Earthworms eat dirt, pulling out vital nutrients from bits of leaves and roots in the soil. They help break down these nutrients before depositing them back through their waste. This helps keep the soil fresh and healthy.
Earthworms are hermaphroditic, meaning that they play the roles of both males and females when it comes to reproduction. But they aren't self-fertilizing - they still need to mate.
Afterwards, each earthworm builds a tiny cocoon out of a substance secreted from the bulge in its body, close to its head. Two to four weeks later, the little earthworms crawl out of their cocoon.