Discusses the gardeners friend and help mate the earthworm.
Dig up a patch of earth in a garden or park, look closely and you will probably see a wriggly worm. Worms that live in the soil are called earthworms. There are several kinds of earthworms. Worms come in many different colors and sizes. Some can be so tiny that they are hard to see, others like the giant earthworm of Australia can be as long as a car.
Earthworms live in damp soil where there are bits of dead plants to eat. Most of them live near the top of the soil. They can live in woods meadows and gardens. They live under lawns and among dead leaves under the bushes and trees. Worms also love compost heaps, where people pile vegetable peelings and other food waste.
A worm is a very simple animal. It has no skeleton, no lungs no eyes and now ears. Its body is a tube made of many tiny segments. Each segment is filled with liquid and has bristles that help the worm move. Earthworms through their skins. They take in air that is trapped in the soil. On wet days, worms air pockets fill with water and worms have to go up to the surface. If they didn’t they would drown underground.
Earthworms feed on the rotting parts of dead plants. They have no teeth or jaws, so the food they eat has to be very soft. Sometimes they nibble food with their tiny lips but usually they suck it up. In the daytime worms usually stay under the soil and feed on the roots of dead plants. At night when it is dank and damp, they crawl up to the surface and search for dead leaves. They drag the leaves underground. Worms also feed on just plain soil. They use the good parts as the soil goes through their body. Then they get rid of the waste in worm cast. This cast helps make the soil more fertile and grow better plants and the main reason worms are the gardeners best friend.
Worms have strong muscles to help them move. There are ring-shaped muscles inside each segment. These make their body shrink or spread out. Other muscles run along their body and make it grow short or long. A worms bristles are very important in helping it move. The worm digs its bristles into the soil to anchor itself.
A worm makes tunnels by pushing its way into the soil and eating it. As the worm moves forward, its body coats the soil with slime. This makes the tunnels stronger, but they soon collapse. Some worms burrow deeper underground when the weather is too cold or dry. They push down to a few feet below the surface, then coil up and go to sleep. They wake up when the weather gets better.