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  • Writer's pictureBill

Ten Tidbits About Worms

We were talking with someone today who was a bit squeamish about worms (noted they are slimy and all). While worms need to live in moist conditions, there's a lot more to them, and it seemed worth posting 10 quick facts about worms. We're not calling this a Top 10 list, because the worms haven't yet told us their favorite qualities.

In no particular order:

A red wiggler worm with a cocoon

1. Worms have no eyes. Of course, eyes would be of little use when you spend your life in the dark, so no surprise there.

2. Worms can eat half their body weight every day. That's in ideal conditions, but think about trying to eat 75 pounds worth of food, if you weigh 150 pounds!

3. Worm babies come from cocoons. A cocoon is a small, lemon-shaped capsule that contains as many as three developing baby worms.

4. Cocoons can wait out bad weather. If conditions aren't right, baby worms will remain in a kind of stasis and won't hatch. Cocoons can wait a year before hatching if it's too cold, too dry, or there are other conditions that threaten the viability of a live worm.

5. Every worm is both male and female. Worms are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female reproductive organs.

6. The most common composting worm is the red wiggler. Red wiggler worms have various names (tiger worm, brandling worm, redworm).

7. Their scientific name is Eisenia fetida (fetida, or foetida, means "foul-smelling") — the worms will emit a pungent odor if threatened. If you're nice to your worms though, there's no smell.

8. Red wigglers are smaller than the traditional earthworms you see on the sidewalk after a rain.

9. Composting worms are epigeic meaning they live on or near the surface, in decaying matter. There are also endogeic worms that dig horizontal burrows and live mostly underground, feeding on the soil, and anecic worms that make vertical burrows and drag leaf litter down underground.

10. Composting worms can break down any organic matter that is in some stage of decay, from manure to watermelon rinds, to bones! (though the last would take an incredibly long time). Highly acidic foods (most citrus fruits) are best avoided in large quantities, however.

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