How Do Worms Survive In the Soil?

Did you know that worms are 1,000 times stronger than humans? Did you know that worms are hemaphrodites? This means they have both male and female sex organs! Worms are amazing creatures, so these are just a few interesting facts about our cold-blooded friends. Another interesting characteristic of the worm is its habitat. Worms live in the soil, preferably moist soil.

Worms’ bodies are 80% water and they have no lungs. They respire through their skin. This means that humid conditions are crucial to their survival. If they do not live in moist, humid conditions, their skin will dry out and they will suffocate. The worm coats itself with mucus, which allows dissolved oxygen to pass into its bloodstream. This mucus also lubricates the worm’s body making it easy to pass through the soil. They move through the soil by contracting and relaxing their muscles. This motion causes the worm’s body segments to pull closer together. So the worm lengthens its body, then it tightens to move along both the surface and in the soil.

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While worms cannot see or hear, they do have senses. These senses are not too fond of light. Because of this and due to the drying effects of the sun, worms are nocturnal creatures. This characteristic also makes living in the soil ideal, especially during the day when the sun shines bright and conditions are not as humid as they are at night. Worms come to the surface of the soil to feed in the evening hours when the world is dark and the humidity is twice as high.

Worms’ appetites and food preferences make living in the soil ideal as well. Worms consume massive amounts of decomposed organic material. This organic material can only be found on the soil. Worms eat the organic material and they spew it out in order to make worm casts. Worm castings can add up to tons each year, which help to keep the soil rich and fertile. According to Plantwatch, these castings or “dung” contain 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, 11 times more potassium, and 1000 times more beneficial bacterial than the material the earthworm initially ingested. Worms contribute to the environment in many other ways. They treat waste, they combat pollution, and they clear gardens, fields, and woodlands of decomposing vegetation and leaves.

When worms tunnel into the ground to lay low during the drier morning hours, they let air into the soil. This air aids tremendously in the growth process of plant roots. In addition, aerated soil absorbs water much easier. This reduces the risk of soil erosion.

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Remember, all worms live in moist environments. In fact, some are even aquatic. The soil and the sea offer perfect conditions for the way worms are built from their ability to respire through their skin to their sensitivity to light to their feeding habits which rely heavily on organic materials that can be found in abundance in earths most natural environments.

For more fun facts about worms, check out our 10 Great Earthworm Facts article by clicking here.

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