A reader wrote to us a while back with a simple question: is the earthworm indigenous to the Americas? (Technically, he asked where “earth worms” are from, using two words, but six of one, half a dozen of the other.) Fortunately, we have some familiarity with this topic, and it is actually quite fascinating. In a sense, earthworms are indigenous to the Americas – that is, certain species of earthworm are native to the Americas – but these earthworms no longer exist. The earthworms that we now have are not indigenous to the Americas, but instead came from Europe. This is all a little complicated, so below we provide an overview of where earthworms come from, and also detail the impact that earthworms had upon their arrival to the Americas.
Red worms are epigeic or detritivorous earthworms. They do not eat animal or human flesh. Red worms are vegetarians, so they eat vegetables and other organic matter. There are more than 120,000 species of flies around the world and many of the most common flies, such as the fruit fly, eat decaying fruits and vegetables as well.
Some worms are actually beneficial to the body, although they are not necessary for survival. Worms are packed with protein, they are a source of nourishment and food for many animals, and they may provide a fair amount of entertainment as documented in the popular book How to Eat Fried Worms.
Earthworm species such as P. corethrurus have low oxygen consumption, meaning, they can survive at lower concentrations of oxygen due to low consumption. This enables P. corethrusus to survive for a very long time when soil is saturated with water.
This means, the Gippsland rarely leaves its wet underground labyrinth. According to the Museum of Victoria, it is only found in the Bass River Valley of South Gippsland, in an area of about 100,000 hectares bounded by the towns of Loch, Korumburra and Warragul.
Worms and caterpillars have strong appetites. Worms eat so much that they typically produce excrement equal to their own weight every 24 hours. Some caterpillars have earned the name “pest” because in high enough numbers they can eat through entire fields of plants and flowers, killing the plants in the process.
Worms belong to the Annelid family. They are an invertebrate, which means that they do not have a spine. This allows them to move freely and with an ease that is not possible for animals that have restricted movement because of their spinal column.