Earthworms are everywhere, and every child has up-close and personal interactions with them, but we don’t think about them a lot. When we really stop to think about earthworms, what do we really know?
Exploring for earthworms is a great way to get kids outside, interacting with the natural world this spring.
Learning about Earthworms
If you search the internet for how many different species of earthworms exist on this planet, you will get answers anywhere from a few hundred to 7,000. That’s because scientists are still searching for the best way to classify earthworms. Maybe a kid reading this article will become the scientist to come up with the best system!
What we do know:
Earthworms are decomposers, which means they break up dead material like leaves and turn it into rich, healthy soil. This soil then goes on to feed new plants.
Earthworms naturally turn the soil, allowing oxygen and nutrients to move around, which can help some kinds of plants.
Earthworms are food for many animals — from birds, to raccoons, snakes, moles, foxes, salamanders, toads and even humans.
Earthworms live anywhere the soil is moist enough, and where they have enough dead material to eat. They aren’t usually found in deserts or places where the ground is frozen year round.
More than half of the species of earthworms in the United States are originally from other places on our globe. Most earthworms in the United States today are descended from worms brought from Europe. We do have native earthworms, like the very rare giant Palouse earthworm found in Eastern Washington, which can be 18 inches or longer.
You may have heard that if you cut an earthworm in half, both halves will become a new earthworm. However, this isn’t true. Some earthworms, if cut in half lower down on their body, can regrow a tail. But others will die, and you definitely won’t end up with two earthworms. At best, you’ll have one injured one.
Earthworms don’t have eyes or ears, but one side of their body is more sensitive to light. They use this to avoid sunlight, since drying out can be the end of an earthworm.
Read the entire article here in the Wenatchee World