Human beings and nature have always and will continue to co-exist. Oftentimes, humans have forgotten the value of nature and the environment in which they exist and live. However, nature as a destructive and restorative force has never failed to disappoint. Since the two remain closely related, we need to educate our little ones about their surroundings. The best way of doing so is by making them aware of nature and creatures that also live in nature. Our article today will be addressing a small yet fascinating and helpful creature, the earthworm. While they may seem insignificant, they play a huge role in nature. These wiggly little creatures may just surprise you. Before we take you on a journey into the life of an earthworm, first like take a look at what are earthworms.
What Are Earthworms?
As the term implies, they are closely related to the earth and the natural world. An earthworm is a long, thin, tube-like creature that belongs to a particular group of animals known as annelids. You may be surprised but there are quite a few types of earthworms. However, the most commonly found one is the common earthworm also popularly known as the garden worm. They are found in soil, either on the earth’s surface or in the pot of your beautiful plants. To better understand the structure of an earthworm, let’s take a glimpse at the anatomy of an earthworm.
Anatomy Of An Earthworm
- An earthworm has a very unique body with its body being divided into several sections or rings. The main reason for such division into segments is to make moving easy. Remember that an earthworm has to navigate through soil so it needs a body structure that allows it to do so without much effort.
- The earthworm like other creatures has a head and tail, with the front head serving as the head and the back end serving as the tail. Surprisingly, earthworms don’t have other recognisable facial features like other animals they are devoid of ears, eyes and a nose. So, you must be wondering how they perceive things. They do so through the sensory cells that are located all over their body.
- Last but not the least is the setae. These are small-brush-like structures that can be found on all segments of the body. The primary function of the setae is to allow the earthworm to get a grip on the soil when moving.
What Do Earthworms Eat?
Since earthworms are herbivores, they usually consume plant-based materials like leaves, grass and other organic matter that can be found buried in the soil. An interesting fact about how earthworms eat is that they use the muscles in their gizzards to grind their food. The reason for that is that they do not have any teeth. Thankfully, earthworms are blessed with a very strong digestive system that helps break down their food into nutrient-rich castings. This ultimately culminates in replenishing the soil with nutrients required for plant growth. This is perhaps one of the most important roles that earthworms play in maintaining soil health and fertility.
How Do Earthworms Breathe?
If you were wondering how earthworms breathe, you’re not alone. Many others are sailing in the same boat, asking themselves the very same question. Luckily for you, you’re about to find out. Unlike almost all other animals that have lungs to breathe, earthworms don’t have any special organ for it. They breathe through their skin which is why their skin must be moist. Only if their skin is moist can oxygen be taken in into their bloodstream. As expected, they take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide.
Why Do Earthworms Come Out When It Rains?
Sadly, during heavy rainfall, earthworms are forced to come out of the soil. There is a simple and logical explanation for this. As you know earthworms take in oxygen through their moist soil, so when it rains the oxygen in the water-logged soil may run out. Unfortunately, earthworms have no option but to come out from the soil. It is only when they are on top of the soil that they can breathe properly again.
Where Do Earthworms Make Their Homes?
Earthworms make their homes in soil. They create a haven for themselves in the soil by creating burrows where they can rest, eat and sleep without being disturbed. While these burrows serve as their homes, they also serve another purpose. They aerate the soil by allowing air and water to pass through the soil and to the roots of plants. The next time you find an earthworm in your potted plant, make sure not to get rid of it.
Interesting Facts About Earthworms
- One of the most unique qualities of an earthworm is that it is very stretchy. They can stretch their bodies to almost double their original body size. The main reason for this is so they can easily enter crevices inside the soil.
- Did you know that earthworms have been on Earth for longer than human beings have? If you didn’t know this then you just learned a new fact about earthworms. These creepy crawlies have been creeping through the soil for longer than you can imagine.
- Most earthworms, like the common earthworms, are nocturnal creatures. You mainly find them out at night and asleep during most of the day. Part of the reason for them being nocturnal is to avoid falling prey to predators that mainly lurk during the day. Also, the extreme temperature during the day could pose a serious threat to these sensitive little creatures.
- Earthworms create a unique rhythm while moving and munching below the surface of the earth. If you could hear them, it would be like a kind of symphony or melodious madness.
- Since earthworms have a very delicate and soft body, their remains decompose extremely quickly, making it rare to find their fossils or remains.
- Earthworms tunnel through the soil by eating the soil.
How Do Earthworms Help Farmers?
- Their act of creating burrows in the soil aerates the soil by allowing water and air to pass through and reach the roots of plants. This helps greatly in maintaining and sustaining plant health.
- Since they consume plant-based materials and organic matter which is digested in their systems, they convert it into nutrient-rich castings that act as a natural fertilizer to the soil.
- Earthworms are always traversing through the soil. This act helps loosen up the soil in places where it is very compact. In this way, it contributes to improved structure of the soil.
- The act of digging the soil to travel inside the soil prevents waterlogging and nutrient runoff from the soil.
- Since earthworms help in binding the soil together, they play a vital role in reducing soil erosion.
- Last, but not least, they are an inexpensive way of maintaining soil health and fertility and act as natural agents that maintain the soil.
Here at EuroKids, we strive to achieve overall excellence, leading the cognitive development of students. We ensure that body, mind and soul are all engaged and in synchronisation to yield the best possible results inside and outside the classroom. It is important for kids to learn values and to value their environment from a young age. This will help them appreciate the role that the environment plays in our day-to-day lives. For more information on other kid-related topics, please have a look at our blog.