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WHAT IS THE EARTHWORM?


The earthworm is the greatest living contribution to soil fertility in the world. It is also a great source of food for birds, turtles and other small mammals. It even makes a great fish bait. The earthworm tunnels and eats through soil making it into rich living earth. It makes the earth fertile for all plant life. The earthworm lives underground and makes complex burrows six feet or longer.



The earthworms body is two sets of muscles and it has a mucus layer around it so that it can chew through the toughest of dirts. The only time the earthworm leaves its underground world is when it rains and the ground is soaked or when it comes to the surface to mate. Earthworms have both male and female sex organs but it cannot fertilize itself. Earthworms mate on the surface at night. The earthworm collects the others sperm and stores it for later use in reproduction. The earthworm lays a cocoon with 20 or more earthworm babies in it and these survive until the next season.














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The worst enemy for the earthworm is the mole. An average mole eats about 50 earthworms per day reducing their numbers drastically. The earthworm eats the soil by crushing it in its muscular stomach, digesting organic material mixed in with the minerals and it ejects the rest from its body. Some earthworm species dump their fertile waste on the surface. The earthworm can also grow to about 1 foot in length and reaches sexual maturity in 6-18 months after emerging from its cocoon. It takes 5 months for a cocoon to hatch. Earthworms live alone and can live up to 6 years in captivity. Some gardeners use poison to kill earthworms but this causes more harm to their gardens and lawn then the earthworms themselves. The poison also gets into the ecosystem and birds and other animals suffer the consequences.

 

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