Conducting an Earthworm Survey with my school gardeners recently gave me a real worm’s eye view of the world – and has left me in awe of the wiggly wigglers under our feet. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned…
- A worm has a long, soft, sometimes segmented body that’s covered in hairs to push it along. Their skin can absorb oxegen, as long as it stays moist and acts a bit like a lung.
- Worms are pretty ancient, and were wiggling underground some 600 million years ago.
- Across the world there’s 34,000 different types of worm but there are only 16 different species in the UK. Each worm can live for up to 10 years and some are so tiny, you’d need a microscope to see them.
- Worms can lift weights like strongmen. Well, not quite, but they are around 1,000 times stronger than us. What I want to know is how did they discover this?
- Cut one in half and the part with the saddle can survive. (Though I wouldn’t reccomend you experiment of course!)
- Worms survive extremes of temperature by burrowing away from the surface, and the light.
- Each little wiggler can eat its own weight in soil, which they excrete as worm casts. These are gold dust to gardeners as they help enrich the soil.
- Forget digging, one acre of worms can rotavate around 50 tonnes of soil. And because they don’t eat plant tissue, they won’t munch on your veg either.
- In fact, worms are such efficient soil guzzlers, they’ve even been used in the wine making process. I’ll raise a glass to that!