Worm 101: Earthworm Life Cycle and more
There are a lot of interesting things about earthworms, like how an earthworm life cycle takes place, how long their life span is, what is their anatomy composition, or what do earthworms eat. You really can’t learn everything about them in just one sitting, but I’ll try to put in as much information on this article.
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We can start with an earthworms life cycle and stages. Typically, an earthworm will go through 4 stages in its life: the egg stage, juvenile stage, mature stage, and the mating stage. So, to give out a short description for each, let’s start with the egg stage. Worms come from cocoons (also known as egg cases), and these usually go through an incubation period of about 23 days before they start hatching. Now, when the eggs hatch, the baby worms will now be entering the juvenile stage. They’re usually born (half inch in length) with no reproductive organs yet but they can already be heavy eaters at this point. So you can very well use them for composting already. The mature stage on the other hand is the time when the worms finally reach adulthood. This is the time when they start developing their reproductive organs.
Now, when they’ve finally reached the Mating Stage, then they can very well start with procreation. This is the stage wherein they already start becoming very active into mating (especially during warmer yet tolerable temperatures). Even though they’re born hermaphrodites, earthworms will still need another of their kind, to be able to mate. And so, after mating, then will they start excreting the eggs that they’ve produced. The cycle starts with the egg stage, and then ends when the earthworms die. So you might probably ask, how long do earthworms live? Well, their life span may go for as long as 4 to 5 years. But these years may be cut short if they were to live stressful lives; and be contained in very badly-maintained environments.
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Apart from the life cycle information, let’s move forward to another topic, like the parts of an earthworm. You see, earthworms can’t see. They’re born without eyes, and can only move and sense things around them by just using their light-sensitive cells in the body. Earthworms also have brains. Yes, you read it right. They have brains (not just one) that focus on giving guidance on the necessary body movements when it comes to reaction to light. Other than being hermaphrodites, and having both male and female reproductive organs, earthworms have five hearts, and has no lungs. They only breathe through their skin, that’s why it’s best that they’re always kept moist.
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You might also wonder on this very fascinating question, on why do earthworms come out after a heavy rain? Well, since earthworms need moist surroundings to be able to live, they probably come out of their habitats after a heavy downpour to take advantage of the high humidity. High humidity can actually help protect them, and their skin from feeling dehydrated. But other than that, moist surfaces also help them to move faster.
Aside from these interesting facts, you also may want to know about the world's largest earthworm. The world’s biggest earthworm is the Giant Gippsland. It grows at an average of 100 centimeters long, and can grow as much as 2 centimeters in diameter. Their length can also go as long as 3 meters. This type of earthworm has a dark purple head, and a bluish grey body. And just like any earthworm, they burrow and also have the need for water in their surroundings, to be able to breathe.
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The application of worm compost on any garden type is quite a treat on its own. Not only does it contain organic components (from decomposing kitchen scraps and garden wastes) that are high in nutrients, it is also a red worms by-product. It is an organic resource that also brims with microbial activity. Moreover, a generous application of this on both soil and plants will certainly improve each ones properties.