“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.”
Darwin spent 39 years studying worms and their behavior on the planet earth. What is so great about worms? Well, without further due, let's go ahead and give the worm a spotlight.
Worms have extrememely important jobs in the soil and are key players in making compost. One important job that they have is to eat - in fact, red wiggler worms can consume three to four times their own body weight in the soil and compost materials each day! Their waste (politely referred to as “worm castings”) are nutrient-rich and a tremendous boost for your soil. Worms manage to get their exercise as well, which is another way that worms enhance soil quality. As they wriggle through the earth, worms create networks of air tunnels. These pathways serve to loosen the soil, improving plant root development.
Without a doubt, worms are showstoppers. Some kids will jump up and down to get close and touch them, while others will grimace and back away at first sight. Either way, it is important for students to learn from the start the precious role that earthworms play in the earth. The healthier your garden's soil, the more earthworms you will find living in it.
Here are some other facts about worms:
- Worms have no eyes, no teeth, no lungs (they breathe through their skin), and five hearts (at least). No wonder they bring so much love to their work!
- There are approximately 2700 kinds of earthworms.
- Earthworms are STRONG - they can move stones 60 times their own body weight.
- Look for earthworms in your garden after a rain shower - when the air pockets under the ground get filled with water, they come to the surface of the soil for oxygen.
- In one acre of land, there can be more than one million earthworms.
- If a worm skin dries out, it will die. This is because worms require moisture to respire.
- The largest kinds of earthworms are found in South Africa, where the longest worm ever recorded was found. It measured 22 feet long. But don't worry - the kind of worm you'll find in your compost doesn't get much longer than three inches!