Earthworms can be found in just about every corner of the earth. They live in trees, in bark, and under rocks as well as along rivers, near springs, and in ponds. Their favorite place to live, however, is burrowed inside the earth’s rich soil. During the winter month’s they burrow deep within the earth until the surface warms again during the spring. During the warm summer months, earthworms stay closer to the tops of soil where they create tunnels to wiggle in and out of. Again, these tunnels are extremely important for plant life as they create a path for water and air, which is essential for the survival of plant life.
Places like China, Australia, Greenland, and the Sahara Desert have their own indigenous species of earthworms. Besides the Sahara Desert, you will not find large numbers of earthworms living in “sandy” areas, especially sandy beaches. The vast majority of earthworms on our planet can only survive under certain environmental conditions. In fact, it is only in a dark, moist environment that earthworms can thrive and reproduce.
When the skin of an earthworm dries out, the creature will die from suffocation. A balance must be maintained between moisture levels because too much moisture can be fatal to earthworms. When soil becomes inundated with water, the earthworm will tunnel to the surface. If there is too much sunlight, the worm can become paralyzed.
Another surprising fact about earthworms is: earthworms have both male and female parts that produce sperm and eggs. This means, earthworms are hermaphrodites and all earthworms are equipped to lay eggs. When earthworms mate, they cover themselves with sticky mucus. They lie together and pass sperm into one another. The sperm fertilizes the eggs. Once this occurs, a ring of slime forms around the worms’ bodies. As the worms writhes forward, the ring detaches from the body, carrying the eggs inside it. When ring hits the ground, it closes and transforms into a cocoon. The cocoon protects the eggs as they develop over the next 2-12 weeks.
In warm weather, the eggs may hatch in two weeks and in cold weather, it can take up to twelve weeks. When the eggs hatch, the worms are not brown in color, they are light pink. As the worm matures, the color will deepen. Newborns are 12 millimeters (0.472 inches) long. At twelve months, the earthworm is ready to mate again.
Depending on the environmental conditions, certain earthworm species may live anywhere from 4-8 years. The life span of an earthworm also depends on the number of predators the worm has to fend off each day. If the earthworm lives in a thriving environment and free from most
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