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Earthworms and Reproduction

Updated on March 18, 2008

Earthworms Are Amazing!

Now that you’ve learned a little about the earthworm’s digestive system and are ready for more “juicy” details I'll tell you a little about earthworms and reproduction. I’m not going to indulge you in any graphic earthworm sex scenes, sorry, but I will give you information from a biological perspective on how they reproduce. They are truly fascinating creatures!

Temperature

In order for nightcrawlers or earthworms to mate comfortably they must have a certain temperature. Anything 50 degrees are higher is too hot for the earthworm Once the surface soil heats up to 50 degrees or more the urge to find a mate ceases.

Worms mating

Mating

In Canada mating takes place almost all summer, but in the more southern areas of their territory most often it is early spring and late fall.

Although earthworms have both female and male sex organs, they still need to mate in order to reproduce. They cannot fertilize themselves. Not unlike the human race, worms go about finding a mate haphazardly. They sort of just stumble into their mate, relying on their extreme sensitivity, remember worms can’t see or hear, of detecting ground vibrations. They actually feel the ground vibrate or the grass move when another worm is moving through it. When the worm knows a potential mate is nearby he will start to search in the area with the tip of his body until he runs into the other worm. When they do touch the slide up next to each other and roll over on their sides—one facing left the other right.

Each worm has four pair of setae, these are like bristles on a hairbrush and can be extended out or retracted into the worm body. The third set of setae is used in the mating process. They are used to hold the earthworms together while mating. These setae actually penetrate the mate’s body during the mating act. Once they are in position, sperm from each worm passes to the other and is collected and stored in special sacks. The process lasts 2 to 3 hours! The earthworms separate and go back to their tunnels.

Fertilization

In the second part of the reproductive process, a special slimy substance is produced by the clitellum (some call this the sex band) the slime forms a tube around the earthworm. Then he crawls backwards into his tunnel and the slime tube slips forward off of his body. As it does, it passes over the male and female openings, the eggs (from the parent) and the sperm (from the mate) are released from the body. Fertilization takes place outside of the body, but within the protection of the slime tube. Once free in the soil, the slime tube dries, shrinks and forms a protective covering over the eggs. It is now called a cocoon.

Cocoon

The cocoons are deposited deep inside the worms tunnel below the frost line. The earthworms usually hatch within 30 to 60 days, but some cocoons can remain in the soil for years before the offspring appear! Eggs will remain in the cocoon almost forever. In fact, worms cannot release themselves from the cocoon. They must be set free from the outside. They will only hatch if and when the conditions are right for their survival. If there is not enough soil bacteria (the good kind) the worms will not be released. The bacteria itself decays the outer part of the cocoon allowing it to release the worms.

After they hatch it takes two to four years for the worm to reach sexual maturity. When they mature they can mate with any other earthworm they meet.

There you have it! Now ou can impress all your friends with these interesting worm facts.

If you like this article you might like my Worms and Digestion Article.

Scientific Name

Earthworms are in the family Lumbricidae of the segmented worm phylum,Annelida. The scientific name for one common species is Lumbricus terrestris.

Funny Video shows difference between Onychophora and Annelida

Comments

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    • profile image

      Johnk937 3 years ago

      It'll also save a lot of cash and time for those on bddfekedkebg

    • profile image

      uyyuy 4 years ago

      kjhtuj

    • profile image

      gay 4 years ago

      very informative thankyou

    • profile image

      sai 5 years ago

      22222

    • profile image

      chuck norris jr. 5 years ago

      it is explained nice and the vedeo was dam good

    • profile image

      chuck norris 5 years ago

      it is eplained nice and the vedeo was dam good

    • profile image

      ik 5 years ago

      ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

    • profile image

      goo 5 years ago

      tttttt

    • profile image

      lol 5 years ago

      thank u it was great!!!

    • profile image

      swaleha 5 years ago

      pretty well explained nice and profitable for me.this video is dam good interesting gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood. than x a lot.

    • profile image

      Lol 6 years ago

      Disgusting, yet informative

    • profile image

      bio7 6 years ago

      "The bacteria itself decays the outer part of the cocoon allowing it to release the worms." It's true???

      where did you read about it???????

    • profile image

      jacob 6 years ago

      it doesn't tell me an explanation on how an earthworm reproduces.

    • profile image

      angie 6 years ago

      not good, doesn't explain ANYTHING.

    • profile image

      kuttiepie 6 years ago

      doesn't tell me what they use and doesn't go through all the steps

    • profile image

      aldrich 6 years ago

      what is the description of sexual reproduction of earthworm

    • profile image

      diana cogal:) 6 years ago

      good aticle!

      more information i got:)

    • profile image

      ty 6 years ago

      gross

    • profile image

      steve 6 years ago

      stilll gross ! im going to barf now so ya...

      GROSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - FAIL PROJET NOW HE HA! EPIC FAIL !!!!!!!!! IM GOING TO MAKE U GET REALLY ANNOIED OH AND THE VIDO STILL GROSS !

    • profile image

      steve 6 years ago

      gross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Graky 6 years ago

      Very good article

    • profile image

      game lover :D 6 years ago

      Thank You for a wonderful article X)

    • profile image

      mc steezy 6 years ago

      Hated it

    • profile image

      taiga 7 years ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      harika 7 years ago

      its very intersting nd thankq for who provided dis website

    • profile image

      Jemimah Birch 7 years ago

      Thanks for this, good easy explanation. My question though, does it really take 'two to four years for the worm to reach sexual maturity"?

      Regards, Jemimah South Africa Cape Town

    • profile image

      PARTHIBAN 7 years ago

      ITS VERY BOOOR

    • profile image

      kkuuujjj 7 years ago

      How does a worm reproduce?

    • profile image

      shifhj 8 years ago

      yay worm sex

    • profile image

      Nagjyoti Sharat Bollapragada 8 years ago

      very important point w.r.t picture i come to know through your website picture. Thank you because i am doing earthworm composting and it is very necessary to know all above.

    • profile image

      Jzang 8 years ago

      Well explained but is it degrees C or F?

    • profile image

      Gitanjali 8 years ago

      i loved this funny vedio.

      very well explained on mating............

    • profile image

      li jing 9 years ago

      quite instersting

    • profile image

      justabrat1 9 years ago

      very good article like she said very gross

    • profile image

      the one 9 years ago

      nice!

    • J_Eds profile image

      J_Eds 9 years ago from Blackpool

      Amazing, yet gross.

    • profile image

      JodiRD 10 years ago

      Good work on this article. Loved the video.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      pretty well explained

      good hub regards Zsuzsy

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