Interesting facts about worms you may not know
Worms are invertebrates, that is they have a long, soft body and no back bone or legs! They do not have a brain but do have a nerve centre (called a ganglia). They do not have eyes but are sensitive to light.
Worms either move by stretching and contracting their muscles or some only move using the movement of other creatures or the soil movement.
Worms come in all sorts of sizes from tiny little thin things to very big ones. Guess how big you think the largest earth worm might be?
The largest earth worm is the giant Gippsland, it lives in Australia and can grow to about 3 metres in length, it is a protected and endangered species as many have been killed by farming methods.
There are hundreds of thousands of species of worms and about 2,700 are earth worms. Earth worms have been around for 120 million years! That’s quite a long time, they were even around when the dinosaurs were here!
Dendrobaena worms are native to the UK. They live in the top 2-10 cm of the soil and have a good and varied diet, thus why they are favourite for wormeries.
Darwin described the earth worm as “the intestines of the earth”
Did you know that a Tonne of these worms can eat a tonne of green and kitchen waste in 1 – 4 days!!!! Not a lot of people know that. They basically can eat their own body weight in this time, Imagine a human of 60 kg (10 Stone) doing that!!!!
They like most things we like but are not partial to onions, garlic leaks etc. They also do not like anything high in acidity, so oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit etc are not suitable for a wormery as the increase in acidity can kill them also they just wont eat it!
One of their favourite food is Poo! They just love horse manure, to them this is the same as us going for a favourite Chinese dinner!
If you think of archeologists when they dig up ancient bodies etc there is usually nothing left except, bones, metal or stone objects, this is because the worms and other tiny life in the soil eat almost everything else!
Worms are hermaphrodites, that is to say each worm is both male and female, but they can cross fertilize. Two worms will wriggle together, go all wet and slimely (bit like humans) and both will produce an egg. The ring around the worm, about 1 third down from its head end is called the Clitellum, often referred to as the saddle. The saddle is where the worm eggs are made,
After mating the clitellum forms a shell around the worm cells and “rolls” itself over the head of the worm making the egg capsule, called a Cocoon.
Each worm will produce between 1 and 2 cocoons per week.
Each cocoon will contain between 1 and 7 hatchlings, always an odd number usually 3 or 5.
The eggs can lie dormant for up to a year, hatching only when the conditions are favourable. They like a temperature of between 15 and 22 degrees.
When hatched the hatchlings are tiny, about 2mm in length and the with of a fine pencil line!
The hatchlings develop and are fully sexually mature at about 16 weeks; this is when they develop their clitella and can start mating and producing eggs.
In 1881 Charles Darwin wrote:-
“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures”