Earthworms are an important part of the natural ecosystem, recycling nutrients and helping to maintain soil quality. But have you ever wondered what an earthworm eats? Or how many earthworms live in your yard? There are plenty of interesting facts about earthworms that may surprise you! In this article, we explore some of the most surprising things that you didn’t know about these creatures that make up as much as 40% of all living matter on land!
Earthworms are omnivores, not carnivores. Although it may appear that earthworms subsist entirely on dead plants and animals, they in fact also consume bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and algae. It’s believed that these microorganisms are passed to earthworms via excrement from other invertebrates like beetles or millipedes. Some species even have stomach-like cecum chambers which store large amounts of plant matter prior to digestion.
Don’t let that earthworm grab your boot. Despite their drab color, some earthworms can secrete a red, sticky slime that can irritate your skin and cause irritation if it gets into your eyes. Never hold an earthworm by its tail, because it will sometimes release more of its mucus in an attempt to save itself. Doing so is nearly impossible for an inexperienced observer to differentiate from actual writhing behavior.
We may not have gone to school for earthworm sciences, but we do know a thing or two about these annelids. Here are 5 fascinating facts about worms that you may have never heard before. If you’re looking for something mind-blowing, then you need to check out Number 4! …Read more.
These creepy-crawlers are very valuable to farmers! They help enrich soil by converting organic matter into nutrients that plants can use. #3: Earthworms are considered an invasive species in some areas of North America, including Vancouver Island and parts of New York. In these areas, earthworm populations have been known to cause soil erosion and negatively impact native plant and animal species. #2: Did you know that earthworms aren’t worms at all?
They’re Hermaphrodites – When mating, earthworms ‘exchange’ sperm with one another rather than having two sexes. They are both male and female at once, which explains why you never seem to see any baby earthworms around! Their eggs can self-fertilize, making them ‘virgin births’. In fact, some species of earthworm don’t even need to find a mate in order to reproduce.