We’ve all seen these wiggly things on the surface of the ground, brown and purple, long and thin. Sometimes, we’ve dug them up and taken them with us to be fish bait on a fishing trip. Sometimes, we notice them burned to a crisp after trying to cross hot concrete on a sunny day. Sometimes, they seem to have drowned in a pool of water after an abundant rain.
We all know what an earthworm is, but I had the unique experience of introducing my two-year old granddaughter to an earthworm recently. When I say ‘introduced’ I don’t mean she’d never seen a worm before. What I mean is that she’d never seen one up close.
She wasn’t used to the wiggly, squirmy thing, flopping around in the palm of my hand, and then trying to wiggle its way up my arm. She looked closely at it, noticing that it seemed to have sections, some banded, and others plain. She noticed that it seemed to grow on both ends when it wiggled and moved, but especially on the end moving it forward.
Here are a few facts about Earthworms that I shared with my granddaughter.
- Earthworms do many things, including making tunnels in the ground that helps air to mix with soil.
- Their tunnels also help moisture to drain through the soil.
- Earthworms eat leaves and other dead plant material, speeding up the breakdown process.
- Earthworms actually eat soil, processing it and making it richer by adding more nutrients to be used once again by plants and animals.
- Earthworms have muscles in their bodies that allow them to stretch both in width and lengthwise
Here’s a fact I didn’t share (she’s only two, you know.)
- Earthworms are both male and female, so essentially, any worm can mate with any other worm.
- A sticky ‘ring’ the earthworm forms collects both eggs and sperm, and is then deposited in soil as a cocoon, where baby worms grow.