Earthworm
   
Lumbricus  terrestris
   
NIGHT CRAWLER
NIGHT  WALKER
DEW  WORM    
ANGLE  WORM
ORCHARD  WORM
NIGHT  LION                     
LAWN  WORM
RAIN  WORM
   
    SCIENTIFIC  CLASSIFICATION

    KINGDOM :              Animal            
    SUB KINGDOM :     Metazoa          
    PHYLUM :                Annelida           
    SUB PHYLUM :       Invertebrata    
    CLASS :                   Oligochaeta    
    ORDER :                  Haplotaxida
    FAMILY :                  Lumbriidae
    GENUS :                  Lumbricus
    SPECIES :               terrestris         
    *******************************************************************************************************************
    to learn about SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION ..
    go to ..
    LINNAEUS SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION page
 
" God made all the creatures that move along the ground
And God saw that it was good.
"
Genesis 1:25

    HELPFUL  INFORMATION

    a worm is any of several kinds of animals that have ..
    a soft body
    a slender shape
    no backbone
    no legs

    THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF SPECIES OR DIFFERENT KINDS OF WORMS
    some live in fresh water
    some live in salt water
    some live in soil

    SOME ARE HUGE
    SOME ARE SO TINY THEY ARE MICROSCOPIC

    THERE  ARE  4  MAJOR  GROUPS  OF   WORMS
    flatworms
    ribbon worms
    roundworms
    segmented worms

    segmented worms belong in the phylum ANNELIDA
    annelids are segmented worms with bodies that are divided into sections
    there are more than 15,000 known species of Annelid

    most live in ocean and are aquatic worms
    some live in land in tunnels underground and are earthworms

    earthworms are actually a small percent of the worms in the world

    about 18,000 known species of earthworm in the world
    many species still undiscovered
    many species unclassified
    many species not named yet

    each species distinct and different - behavior - size - number of segments

    60 species in United States
    more than half are not native
    native to Europe
    came from other countries by ship    
    came in ballast hundreds of years ago .. stones and soil used to balance ships
    came in potted plants long ago and more recent

    earthworms range of sizes is very large
    1/25 th of an inch   to   9  feet  (GIANT EARTHWORMS)

    GIANT EARTHWORMS
    are found in tropical regions .. especially Australia
    Megascolecides australis  
    live in burrows with volcano shaped openings
    may be 11 feet long when stretches out body


    ALL  EARTHWORMS  ARE  TERRESTRIAL

    ALL  BELONG  TO  ONE  OF  3  GROUPS :
    litter dwellers
    shallow-soil dwellers
    deep-burrow dwellers

    LITTER DWELLERS
    live under thin litter layer of top soil
    just under fallen leaves - needles - twigs

    SHALLOW-SOIL DWELLERS
    top 12" of soil
    no permanent burrows
    random burrowing
    when they feel winter cold
    or
    summer heat
    will go down 18"
    cover selves with mucus - roll into ball - wait out cold or heat

    DEEP BURROW DWELLERS
    example :
    Lumbricus terrestris
    permanent vertical burrows
    6' - 8' down
    excellent soil aerators - bring oxygen deep into top layer soil
    big worms
    pull leaves down into burrow just inside opening to soften and eat later
    nocturnal
    hibernate in winter - deep in burrow
    in summer - go to bottom of burrow until extreme heat passes
    long lifespan

    LUMBRICUS  TERRESTRIS came to North American from ENGLAND during American colonial times  !
 

    BIOLOGY

    physical characteristics
    cold blooded
    invertebrate

    COLOR
    light pinkish reddish greyish brown
    dark reddish brown along dorsal side (backside )
    nearly translucent on ventral side ( underside )

    SIZE
    large powerful earthworms
    length
    up to 8 "  relaxed
    up to 12 " when stretching out
    weight
    .39 ounce

    SHAPE
    tube-like
    slender
    streamlined
    cylinder shaped
    tapered anterior head end
    slightly flattened spoon shaped posterior tail end
    no prominent projecting sense organs
    no projecting appendages
    shape has special adaptations for life underground .. so nothing interferes with passage through soil

    body is made of many ring-like segments
    segments are called annuli
    Lumbricus terrestris has 150 body segments
    thick band half way down body from head is clitellum
    the clitellum is made of a few large annuli

    HEAD
    called ANTERIOR
    do not have separate and distinct head and neck area like many other animals
    head is part of body that is closest to clitellum

    BRAIN
    has mass of neurons called a cerebral ganglion
    connects to nervous system

    MOUTH
    no teeth
    strong mouth muscles
    above mouth is external lobe called prostomium
    acts as covering for mouth
    and
    acts as wedge to force open cracks in soil as earthworm moves forward

    EYES
    do not have exterior eyes
    have light receptors
    sensitive to light

    EARS
    do not have external ears
    have sound receptors
    have vibration receptors

    TAIL
    called posterior
    end of earthworm that is farthest away from the clitellum

    CLITELLUM is a glandular part of skin

    SEGMENTS
    different segments
    house different body organs
    perform different bodily functions
    segmentation serves same function as tissues that are divided into distinct organs in other animal bodies

    SETAE
    on each segment except first and last are 4 pair tiny bristles called setae
    individual setae are called seta
    setae help earthworm move and avoid slipping

    SKIN
    smooth surface to skin
    skin covered in mucus

    EARTHWORM BODY APPEARS VERY VERY SIMPLE
    BUT
    IS NOT AT ALL !
    IS EXTREMELY COMPLEX  !


    DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
    located within the inner tube of the body
    the internal body cavity is the digestive tube


    MUSCULAR SYSTEM
    earthworms have 2 kinds of muscles
    circular muscles
    longitudinal muscles

    circular muscles
    surround body
    can make body shrink
    can make body spread out

    longitudinal muscles
    run lengthwise - head to tail
    can shorten body
    can lengthen body


    RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
    do not have lungs
    do not have gills
    breathe through skin
    finds air between particles of soil
    need  lots of water - helps them to absorb oxygen
 

    LIFESPAN
    up to 6 1/2 years
 

    WHERE  IN  THE  WORLD

    Lumbricus terrestris is found in warm moist top soil of many temperate parts of planet EARTH   !
    prefer soil where deciduous trees live
    North America ..
    Eastern Canada .. Maine - south to Florida
    west through Central Canada - to Alaska
    south to Southern California

    Europe  ..
    Northern Scandinavia - south to Mediterranean Sea
    west to Western Asia
 

    HABITAT

    EARTHWORMS LIVE BELOW GROUND
    underground - subterranean
    in the drilosphere
    create permanent vertical burrows
    with many side tunnels
    and
    storehouse to keep food

    6 to 8 feet deep
    6 feet wide
    takes weeks to construct
 

    FOOD

    earthworms are omnivorous
    they eat all sorts of things

    ORGANIC MATERIALS
    seeds
    small dead animal bodies
    small living animal bodies
    nematodes
    bacteria
    fungi
    protozoa
    eggs of animals
    larva of animals
    decaying plants
    leaves
    pine needles

    INORGANIC MATERIALS
    water

    earthworms show distinct preferences for certain plant foods
    they are selective based on nutrition

    earthworms drink dew as their source of water

    need balanced diet just as all animals do

    sometimes they swallow tiny bits of soil as they eat and extract any nutrients within the soil bits

    they LOVE leaves !
    favorites are
    aspen
    sugar maple
    red maple
    ash

    THEY actyally CREATE SOIL with the foods they eat !!!

    eat 1/3 of body weight every day !

    store food underground in their storehouses in a very neat and orderly way  !!!
   

    SOCIAL  ORGANIZATION

    EARTHWORMS ARE SOLITARY ANIMALS THAT ONLY GET TOGETHER TO MATE
 

    COMMUNICATION

    earthworms communicate with sounds and scent and touch
    physical communication
    involving setae to sense vibrations and hear
    physical language of movement

    body wall contains many nerve receptors that TASTE chemical changes in surroundings
    earthworm mucus has pheromones in it and enable them to communicate chemically

    make sounds that are NOT audible to humans unless the species is rather large ..
    2 feet and larger
 

    SPECIES  PERPETUATION

    earthworms are hermaphrodites
    every earthworm is BOTH a male and a female - not just one or the other
    every earthworm has both male and female reproductive characteristics

    each earthworm must mate with another non-related earthworm in order to get distinct non-related
    genetic material so as to create genetically strong babies

    may mate and produce cocoons every  3 - 4  days throughout spring and again in fall
    but usually produce only 2 cocoons per year

    each earthworm has eggs and sperm
    when they mate they exchange sperm
    but not eggs

    a few days after mating clitellum begins process to make egg cocoon
    secretes tube of mucus which becomes the cocoon
    clitellum secretes albumin for the egg which is the food for the developing earthworm
    after tube is formed earthworm wriggles backward until tube slides forward towards head
    tube collects egg and sperm
    once tube is off of earthworm's head .. ends seal and it becomes cocoon
    egg cocoon is then buried by earthworm
    egg is now fertilized inside cocoon
 

    BABY  BYTES

    egg cocoon is oval
    looks like small lemon
    about 1/4" across
    pale yellow

    albumin inside egg feeds baby earthworm embryo

    egg cocoon may hold 2 embryos
    but
    usually only has 1 baby earthworm

    baby earthworm hatches from egg cocoon after about 2 - 4 weeks

    no larval stage
    earthworm hatches as complete miniature worm  !!!
    about 1/2 inch long
    thin as piece of thread
    translucent with one red vein
 
 

    IT'S  A  FASCINATING  FACT

    4  OUT  OF  EVERY  5  TERRESTRIAL  LAND  ANIMALS  ARE  WORMS  !

    earthworms actually create SOIL

    ARE NOT ABLE TO REGENERATE OR REGROW LOST PARTS VERY WELL
    CAN REGENERATE LOST PART OF BODY IF PART WAS CLOSE TO TIP OF ENDS
    REGENERATION RATE IS VERY SLOW

    earthworms hibernate

    Lumbricus terrestris are very very very healthy hardy animals !

    do not seem to have distinct periods of sleep but do have periods of inactivity like sleep

    earthworms are NOT insects !
    earthworms are worms
    Lumbricus terrestris are segmented terrestrial worms

    caterpillars are not worms
    grubs are not worms

    Lumbricus terrestris earthworms are the strongest animal on planet EARTH
    this means that if all animals were the same size .. earthworms would be the strongest of all !!!

    earthworms drag a leaf over the opening of their burrow ..
    to hide the entrance / exit
    to prevent moisture evaporation

    Lumbricus terrestris is the archetypal earthworm that humans easily recognize  !!!

    Lumbricus terrestris are amazing engineers
    who draw sticks .. leaves .. rocks into surface openings of burrows to close for winter

    1 year on 1 acre - earthworms turn over 2 - 3 tons of earth

    there is a city in GERMANY called  WORMS  !

    earthworms are nocturnal
 

    ENVIRONMENTAL  CONTRIBUTIONS

    are the most important and beneficial soil animal  !!!

    earthworms build soil

    earthworms make all sorts of contributions to the environment of planet EARTH
    transform the texture and content of soil
    create humus rich top soil

    earthworms aerate soil and allow water and air to penetrate deeply into the EARTH

    release nutrients into soil

    without earthworms the soil would be so hard packed by rain and sun that no water could penetrate ..
    the rain would fall upon the EARTH and evaporate   !!!

    earthworms bury seed of all kinds and help to reforest the EARTH

    earthworms fertilize the soil with their nitrogen rich bodily eliminations called castings
    castings as so named because the earthworms cast or throw their bodily eliminations
    upon the surface of the Earth
    castings are really earthworm manure

    in the NILE RIVER valley in EGYPT earthworms deposit tons of castings per acre each year
    this creates some of the richest soil for food growing in the WORLD  !
 

    HUMAN  INTERACTION

    HUMANS HAD NOT GIVEN GREAT AMOUNTS OF STUDY TO EARTHWORMS UNTIL
    CHARLES DARWIN STUDIED THEM IN THE 1830's  !

    CHARLES DARWIN studied earthworms for 39 years  !

    CHARLES DARWIN said .. " 1 acre of garden soil could contain 50,000 earthworms "
    scientists now know the figure is really about 1,000,000 earthworms
    and will produce 18 tons of castings each year

    humans tend to not respect or even notice animals like earthworms because
    they are not colorful in the way of butterflies and are animals of the underground

    humans just do not know about the amazing attributes and accomplishments of earthworms

    humans still do not know all there is to know about these incredible animals !
 
" How many are your works, LORD !
All creatures look to you ...
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things
"
Psalm 104:24,27,28
 

PREVIOUS  PAGE

NEXT  PAGE

CONTACT

HOME
  WOODCARVING  
PHOTOGRAPHS   
15 inches long
 
 
   
   
 
   
 
 
  WOODCARVING  
PHOTOGRAPHS    
4 inches long
 
   
   
   
 
  ANIMAL  PHOTOGRAPHS